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An Argument Of The Book Of Colossians

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Message Statement:

The Supremacy Of Christ Jesus Over The Old And New Creations Provides A Basis For Not Being Led Astray By False Teachers Who Propose Mysterious Ways Of Becoming Closer To God, And Provides A Basis For How One Enters Into Relationships With Other Believers As Well As Those Outside Of The Faith

I. Introduction: After introducing himself and Timothy to the Colossians, Paul gives thanks to the Lord for their faith in Him and love for the brethren in accordance with their certain hope of future glory, and intercedes in prayer on behalf of the Colossians that they might increase in their knowledge of the Lord so that they might live their lives in a way which pleases Him 1:1-14

A. Introductory Greeting: Paul introduces himself as an apostle and Timothy as their brother to the believers at Colossae who are faithful in Christ 1:1-2

1. Paul: Paul introduces himself as an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will2 1:1a

2. Timothy: Paul introduces Timothy as the Colossians’ brother 1:1b

3. Brethren at Colossae: Paul writes to the brethren at Colossae whom he identifies as being faithful and in Christ3 1:2a

4. Prayer: Paul prays that the Colossians might experience both grace and peace from God their Father 1:2b

B. Thanksgiving--Faith-Love-Hope and the Gospel: Paul gives thanksgiving for the Colossians’ faith in God and love for other believers in accordance with their certain hope of glory which they received through Epaphras’ proclamation of the true gospel message 1:3-8

1. Faith and Love: Paul gives thanksgiving to God for the Colossians’ faith in God and love for other believers 1:3-4

2. Hope: The Colossians’ acts of faith and love are based on their certain hope (of glory through Christ himself)4 that is kept safe for them in heaven 1:5a

3. Gospel: The hope which motivates the Colossians’ faith and love came through the true gospel message which Epaphras first taught them on behalf of the apostolic team 1:5-8

a. The hope (of glory) which motivates the Colossians’ faith and love came through the true gospel message which came to them and is likewise bearing fruit (of Christian life and testimony) wherever else it has gone5 (in all the world) 1:5b-6

b. The gospel message came to the Colossians through Epaphras, Paul’s fellow servant, who ministers Christ to the Colossians on the apostolic team’s behalf6 and has made known to Paul their love in the Spirit 1:7-8

C. Prayer--An Intercession for Knowledge and Godly Conduct: In view of Epaphras’ report, Paul continually prays that the Colossians may be filled with knowledge of God so that they might walk in a way which pleases Him 1:9-14

1. Content of Prayer--Knowledge of God’s Will: In view of Epaphras’ report, Paul continually prays that the Colossians may be filled7 with knowledge8 of God’s will so that they might possess true spiritual insight (in all spiritual wisdom and understanding)9 1:9

2. Purpose of Prayer--Walk Worthily:10 Paul prays that the Colossians may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in order that they might live in a way which is pleasing to Him by doing good works, increasing in their knowledge of Him, being strengthened in his might, and giving thanks to him for his redemptive work 1:10-12a

a. Statement: Paul prays that the Colossians may be filled with knowledge of God’s will in order that they might walk (or live their lives) in a manner which is worthy of the Lord in that it is pleasing to Him 1:10a

b. Specific Examples:11 Ways in which believers may live their lives in a way which is pleasing to the Lord are by doing good works, increasing in knowledge of him, being strengthened in the Lord’s might, and giving thinks for His redeeming work which has led to their future inheritance 1:9b-14

1) Bearing Fruit:12 One way to lead a life which is pleasing to the Lord is by doing good works 1:10b

2) Increasing in Knowledge: Another way to lead a life which is pleasing to the Lord is by increasing in one’s knowledge of Him 1:10c

3) Being Strengthened in Spiritual Power:13 Another way to lead a life which is pleasing to the Lord is by being strengthened in all (spiritual) power in accordance with His great strength resulting in endurance, patience and joy 1:11

4) Giving Thanks for God’s Work with Believers:14 Another way to lead a life which is pleasing to the Lord is by giving thanks to the Father who has qualified believers to share in the inheritance of the saints by the redemptive work of his Son through whom he has transferred believers from the rule of darkness to the rule of light in the Son 1:12-14

a) Statement: One way to lead a life which is pleasing to the Lord is by giving thanks to the father 1:12a

b) Reasons: One should give thanks to the Lord because of his work to bring about the believer’s inheritance in the spiritual realm of light by the Lord’s deliverance of them from darkness and transferal of them to the Son’s domain 1:12b-14

(1) Inheritance: One should give thanks to the Father because he has enabled believers to share in the inheritance of the saints in the spiritual realm of light 1:12b

(2) Deliverance from Darkness' Domain: One should give thanks to the Father because he has delivered believers from the realm of spiritual darkness 1:13a

(3) Transference to the Son's Domain: One should give thanks to the Father because he has transferred believers to the spiritual rule of his Son through whom believers have redemption and forgiveness of sins 1:13b-14

II. Doctrinal/Theological Instruction: In view of Christ as the preeminent One over the present and new creations who has reconciled the hostile Colossians to himself, Paul labors and suffers in order to encourage all men, and especially the Colossians to be mature in Christ rather than being derailed in their faith by the persuasive speech of the false teachers 1:15--2:5

A. The Person of Christ:15 Paul affirms the uniqueness of Christ as the preeminent One over the present creation as well as the new creation because he is the exact expression of God, the unique heir of creation, and the head of the Church 1:15-20

1. In Relation to God: Christ is the image16 of the invisible God 1:15a

2. In Relation to Creation: Christ is the unique heir of creation because he is separate from it: all things were created in His sphere, through Him, for Him; He existed before all things and; He sustains all things 1:15b-17

a. Heir: Christ is the first-born17 (heir) of all creation 1:15b

b. In, Through, and For Him: The reason (ο῞τι) Christ has a unique position in creation (first-born) is because all things18 were created in Him,19 through Him20 and for Him21 1:16

c. Before: The reason Christ has a unique position in creation (first-born) is because He is before22 all things 1:17a

d. Sustains: The reason Christ has a unique position in creation (first-born) is because all things hold together in Him23 1:17b

3. In Relation to the Church: Jesus is supreme in the church because he is the head of the metaphorical body by being the first-born of the dead in order that he might be premier in all things since God revealed Himself in Christ and reconciled all things through Christ 1:18-21

a. Head: Jesus is supreme in the church because he is the head of the metaphorical body (of Christ) 1:18a

b. Premier: Jesus is the beginning of the church by being the first-born of the dead in order that he might become premier in all things because God choose to have the fullness of who He is dwell in Christ, and because God choose to reconcile all things to Himself through Christ 1:18b-20

1) Founder: Jesus is the beginning (of the church) by being the first-born of those who have died24 1:18b

2) Purpose: Jesus is the first-born in creation and in resurrection in order that he might become preeminent in all things because God choose to have the fullness of who He is dwell in Christ and because God choose to reconcile all things to Himself through Christ 1:18c-20

a) Purpose Stated: Jesus is the beginning and the first-born in resurrection as well as in creation in order that25 He might become (aorist) preeminent in all things26 1:18c

b) Reason Stated: The reason Christ is preeminent is because (ο῞τι) God choose to have the fullness of who He is dwell in Christ, and because God reconciled all of the universe to Himself through the death of Christ on the Cross 1:19-20

(1) Fullness: All of the fullness27 of God was pleased to dwell in Christ 1:19

(2) Reconciliation: God reconciled all things28 to Himself through Christ by making peace through the blood of His cross 1:20

B. The Exhortations for Steadfastness: Jesus has reconciled the Colossians who were once His enemies in order to present them as mature in the faith, and Paul constantly proclaims God’s mysterious work of unification of Jews and Gentiles in order for all men and especially the Colossians to remain steadfast in their good Christian conduct and faith in Christ against the persuasive speech of the false teachers 1:21--2:5

1. The Work Applied:29 Jesus reconciled the Colossians who were once His enemies in order to present them as holy, blameless and irreproachable by remaining steadfast in their faith in Him 1:21-23

a. Reconciliation Applied: Jesus has reconciled through His bodily death on the cross the Colossians who once were estranged and hostile in mind towards God doing evil deeds 1:21-22a

b. Purpose of Reconciliation: God reconciled the hostile Colossians to Himself in order to present (παραστῆσαι) them holy, blameless, and irreproachable30 before Him 1:22b

c. Condition31--Orthodoxy to the Apostolic Gospel: The condition to being “holy, blameless, and irreproachable before Christ” is that the Colossians continue in a stable, steadfast way in the faith which has been preached to mankind and of which Paul is a minister 1:23

2. The Work Proclaimed--Paul’s Ministry to Present Believers Morally and Doctrinally Pure: Paul suffers in his body and labors intently on behalf of all men and particularly the Colossians in order to present them morally and doctrinally mature in Christ against the persuasive speech of the false teachers 1:24--2:5

a. Paul’s Sufferings: Paul rejoices during this present time in his sufferings for the Colossians as one who fulfills the messianic woes that usher in the end times for the sake of His Body--the Church 1:24

1) Rejoices: Paul rejoices during this present time when the gospel is being proclaimed (now) in his sufferings32 for the sake of the Colossians 1:24a

2) Fills Up: Paul fills up in his body what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions33 for the sake of His body which is the Church 1:24b

b. Paul’s Task: Paul is a minister of the church to proclaim God’s revealed mystery which united Jews and Gentiles into one body through Christ, not only earnestly proclaiming this to all men so that they might be mature in Christ, but particularly proclaiming this to the Colossians and the churches of the Lycus valley in order that they might continue in their orderly Christian life and stability of faith against the persuasive words of the false teachers 1:25--2:4

1) Minister of the Word: Paul became a minister of the church according to the divine commission given to him, namely, to make the word of God fully known34 1:25

2) Content of the Word--The Mystery: The content of the word of God which Paul is making completely known is the mystery35 which was hidden,36 but now is revealed to His saints,37 namely, God’s glorious work among the Gentiles38 1:26-27

3) The Goal in General--Maturity for All Men: Paul, and those with him/like him,39 proclaim Christ with all of his God-given energy in ways which wisely warn and instruct every man40 in order that (ι῞να) they may present every man mature (τέλειον) in Christ 1:28-29

4) The Goal in Particular--Maturity for the Colossians:41 In particular Paul affirms that he is striving for the Colossians and all of the churches of the Lycus valley in order that they might know through their unity that they do understand the riches of Christ, rather than being derailed from their orderly Christian life and stable faith by the persuasive speech of the false teachers 2:1-5

a) Paul’s Striving Stated: Paul affirms that he greatly strives for the Colossians, those at Laodicea, and for all the churches who have not personally seen him 2:1

b) Purpose of Paul’s Striving: Paul strives for the Colossians, Laodiceans, and all of the churches in order that (ι῞να) their hearts may be encouraged (as they find unity in love) to have all of the riches of assured understanding and knowledge of God’s uniting of the body (mystery of Christ) in Christ who has all wisdom and knowledge42 2:2-3

c) Paul’s Concern of the Colossians: Paul expresses his desire for all of the churches of the Lycus valley in order that (ι῞να) they might not be deluded by false teachers (those with beguiling speech) because in his physical absence Paul is still with them in spirit rejoicing over the news of their orderly Christian life and their stability of faith in Christ (cf. 1:7-8) 2:4-5

III. Polemical--Warnings Against Error: With an interchange between positive and negative exhortations Paul exhorts the Colossians to live their lives in relationship to Christ with a focus upon their lives with Him in heaven to be revealed when He returns rather than upon earthly matters which the false teachers propose to experience a closer relationship with Him through legalism, mysticism and aestheticism 2:6--3:4

A. Positive Exhortation:43 Paul concludes his above discussion by urging the Colossians to live in Christ just as they received Him by being rooted, built up in Him, established in the faith which they were taught, and abounding in thanksgiving 2:6-7

1. Exhortation: Paul concludes from the above discussion of Christ and Paul’s ministry on behalf of the churches that the Colossians live in Christ the Lord just as they received Him44 2:6

2. Explanation:45 Paul explains that living in Christ is a faith-walk (περιπατεῖτε ) characterized by being rooted and built up in Him,46 being established in the faith just as they were taught, and abounding in thanksgiving47 2:7

B. Negative Exhortations: Paul exhorts the Colossians to beware of the deceptive philosophy of the false teachers because the Colossians have already attained to fullness of life through Christ; therefore, they should not allow the false teachers to judge them for not keeping the code of the Mosaic Law, condemn them for not entering into mystic experiences, or urge them to submit to regulations which they are no longer under so that they might become closer to God 2:8-23

1. Negative Exhortation to Beware of Deceptive Philosophy: Paul exhorts the Colossians to beware of the deceptive philosophy of the false teachers because the Colossians have already attained to fullness of life through Christ by their death (true circumcision), burial (true identification), and resurrection (true life from the dead) with Christ 2:8-15

a. Beware of Philosophy: Paul exhorts the Colossians to beware of being taken captive by the deceptive philosophy of the false teachers which is dependent upon human tradition, derived from the elemental powers of the world and not from Christ 2:8

1) Statement: Paul exhorts the Colossians to beware (or be on guard) that no one takes them captive48 by hollow, deceptive philosophy49 2:8a

2) Philosophy described: Paul describes the philosophy of the false teachers as depending on mere human tradition,50 being derived from the elemental powers of the world,51 and not being from Christ 2:8b

b. The Work of Christ as a Contrast to the False Philosophy: The reason the Philosophy of the false teachers is not of Christ is because the Colossians have already fully attained of the benefits which the false teachers are proposing through their teaching: fullness of life, by means of their own death (true circumcision), burial (true identification),and (resurrection) true life 2:9-15

1) Fullness of Life: Paul argues that the philosophy of the false teachers is not from Christ because (ο῞τι) the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily in Christ52 and thus the Colossians have come to a fullness of life in Him who is the head of all rule and authority53 2:9-10

2) Incorporation with Christ: Paul argues that the philosophy of the false teachers is not from Christ because (ο῞τι) the Colossians have already attained oneness with God through their death (true circumcision), burial (true identification with God), and resurrection (true life through Christ)54 2:11-15

a) True Circumcision--Death: The Philosophy of the false teachers is not from Christ because the Colossians have been spiritually circumcised by the gruesome death of Christ55 2:11

b) True Identification-Burial: The philosophy of the false teachers is not from Christ because the Colossians have been fully identified with Christ through a spiritual baptism into his death and resurrection 2:12

c) True Life--Resurrection: The philosophy of the false teachers is not from Christ because the Colossians have been truly made alive (as dead Gentiles)56 by being forgiven of all of their trespasses through the death of Christ which canceled our legal debt and disarmed the angelic (demonic) realms which kept the Colossians in their grip through the possession of the legal document57 2:13-15

2. Negative Exhortation to Separate from Legalism: In view of the above affirmation that the Colossians experience the fullness of the Godhead in Christ, Paul urges them not to let anyone pass judgment upon them for not keeping the code of the Mosaic Law because the Law was transitory to the real relationship with God that was to come through Christ 2:16-17

a. Do Not Be Judged: As a conclusion from the above affirmation that the Colossians experience the fullness of the Godhead in Christ (ου῟ν) Paul exhorts them not to let anyone pass judgment upon them for not keeping the code of the Mosaic Law (a religious festival, a new moon celebration, or a sabbath day) 2:16

b. Reason--A Transitory Order Fulfilled in Christ: The reason Paul exhorts the Colossians not to allow anyone to pass judgment upon them for not keeping the code of the Mosaic Law is because those observances were shadows58 of things that were to come whose reality is found in Christ59 2:17

3. Negative Exhortation to Separate from Mysticism: As a conclusion from the above affirmation that the Colossians experience the fullness of the Godhead in Christ Paul exhorts them not to let anyone condemn them for not entering into mystic experiences in order to be close to God because those who do such things are arrogant and are not holding fast to Christ as the Head of the Body 2:18-19

a. Do Not Be Condemned: As a conclusion from the above affirmation that the Colossians experience the fullness of the Godhead in Christ (ου῟ν) Paul exhorts them not to let anyone condemn (καταβραβεύω) them for not entering into mystic experiences in order to be close to God60 2:18

b. Reasons--Arrogance and Abandonment of Christ: The reasons Paul exhorts the Colossians not to let any one condemn them for not entering into mystic experiences in order to be close to God is because those who do such are puffed up with idle notions from an unspiritual mind,61 and because they are not holding fast to Christ who is the Head who causes the body to grow in unity (from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God)62 2:19

4. Negative Exhortation to Separate from Asceticism: In view of the death which the Colossians died with Christ to the control of the elemental things of the world, Paul questions their submission to regulations regarding things like food since these things will perish, are man made, and lead to self-gratification 2:20-23

a. A Question of Submission to Regulations: In view of the Colossians death with Christ to the control of the elemental things of the world,63 Paul inquires about how the Colossians can voluntarily place themselves under the regulations as if they still lived in a worldly way 2:20

b. Examples of Submission to Regulations: Paul describes the regulations to which the Colossians are submitting themselves: (1) Do not handle!, (2) Do not taste!, (3) Do not even touch!”64 2:21

c. Reasons One Should Not Submit to Regulations: Paul explains that one should not submit to regulations because they are transitory, human inventions, and lead to self-gratification 2:22-23

1) They Will Perish: One should not submit to regulations because physical things (food?) are destined to perish with use 2:22a

2) They are Human Inventions:65 One should not submit to regulations because they are based on human commands and teachings 2:22b

3) They Lead to Self-Gratification: One should not submit to regulations because they lead to the gratification of the flesh through one gaining a reputation for wisdom in the valueless spheres of voluntary worship,66 humility and severe treatment of the body 2:23

C. Positive Exhortation--Seek Heavenly Things:67 Paul concludes his polemic against the false teaching by urging the Colossians as those who have positionally died and been raised with Jesus to focus upon Christ and His heavenly rule rather than upon the earthly things of the false teachers because their lives are presently secure with Christ in heaven to be revealed in glory when He returns 3:1-4

1. Seek the Things Above: Paul concludes his polemic against the false teaching by urging the Colossians as those who have been positionally raised with Christ68 to seek the heavenly realm (things above)69 where Christ rules at its center (is seated a God’s right hand)70 3:1

2. Think on the Things Above: Paul urges the Colossians to have a mindset towards the things above rather than earthly things because their lives are presently hidden with Christ in God, but will be revealed with Christ in greatness at His coming 3:2-4

a. Statement: Paul exhorts the Colossians to set their minds on the things above rather than upon earthly things71 3:2

b. The Reasons: The reason Paul exhorts the Colossians to set their minds on the things above is because (γὰρ) their lives are presently hidden with Christ in God as those who have died with Him, and will be revealed with Christ in greatness at His return 3:3-4

1) First Reason: The reason Paul exhorts the Colossians to set their minds on the things above is because (γὰρ) they have positionally died with Christ (to the old order of the false teachers)72 and their life is now hidden with Christ73 in God 3:3

2) Second Reason: The reason Paul exhorts the Colossians to set their minds on the things above is because the Colossians’ life will be fully revealed with Christ in greatness when Christ, who is our life, is revealed at His coming (parousia) 3:4

IV. Lifestyle Exhortations--The Practice of the Life of Christ:74 Paul urges the Colossians as a new people in Christ to put off all sorts of evil and to put on the graces of Christ in relationships--especially within household life as they express reciprocal responsibilities toward one another and towards outsiders as they pray for the gospel ministry among them and act wisely towards them 3:5--4:6

A. Personal and Church Life--Put Off and Put On: Through the imagery of clothing Paul urges the Colossians as a new people in Christ to “put off” all sorts of evil in relationships and to put on the graces of Christ which lead to unity and harmony through love 3:5-17

1. Negative Paraenesis—“Put to Death” Sins of the Past: Paul exhorts the Colossians to cease doing all sorts of evil in relationships (sexual and verbal) because God will come to judge just such evil, because they have undergone a personal change in their lives from and old self (in Adam) to a new self (in Christ), and because Christ’s unifying work has broken down all barriers to relationships 3:5-11

a. Put to Death: Paul exhorts the Colossians to cease doing sexual evil in relationships as they used to do in their old life because God will come in judgment upon those who do such things 3:5-6

1) Imperatival Statement: The conclusion (ου῟ν)75 to an appropriate focus upon Christ is that one put to death76 what belongs to one’s earthly nature (the members which are upon the earth)77 3:5a

2) Examples of Earthy Nature: Examples of one’s earthly nature are as follows:78 3:5b

a) Sexual immorality (πορνείαν)79

b) Impurity (ἀκαθαρσίαν)80

c) Lust (πάθος)81

d) evil desire (ἐπιθυμίαν κακήν)82

e) Covetousness which is idolatry (καί τήν πλεονεξίαν, η῞τις ἐστὶν εἰδωλολατρία)83

3) A Reason--The Wrath of God: Because God’s wrath is coming upon people who do the sinful expressions noted above, believers should put them to death 3:6

b. Put Off: Paul exhorts the Colossians through the imagery of clothing to take off their former sinful conduct which includes attitudes and words which divide the body 3:7-8

1) Imperatival Statement: Although the Colossians used to conduct their lives (walk) in sinful ways which will receive wrath, they are now to put them all away (off)84  3:7-8a

2) Examples of Former Life: Examples of the sinful ways which the Colossians are to put off are as follows: 3:8b

a) Anger (ὀργή)85

b) Rage (θυμός)

c) Malice (κακία)86

d) Slander (βλασφημία)87

e) Filthy language from your Lips (αἰσχρολογίαν ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ὑμῶν)88

c. Stop Lying: Paul exhorts the Colossians to stop speaking falsely to one another because of the personal change which has occurred in their lives, and because the former barriers have been removed through the unifying work of Christ 3:9-11

1) Imperatival Statement: Paul exhorts the Colossians to stop lying to one another89 3:9a

2) Reasons: The reasons the Colossians ought to stop lying to one another is because each of them has undergone a personal change from who they were (in Adam) to who they are (in Christ) and because the former barriers of relationship have been removed through the unifying work of Christ 3:9b-11

a) Personal Change:90 The Reason the Colossians ought to stop lying to one another is because they have put off the old man and put on the new man91 3:9b-10

(1) Having Put Off: The reason the Colossian ought to stop lying to one another is because they have put off the old man with his practices92 3:9b

(2) Having Put On: The reason the Colossians ought to stop lying to one another is because they have put on the new man which is being renewed in knowledge according to the creator's image 3:10

b) No More Barriers: The reason the Colossians ought to stop lying to one another is because the social barriers have been broken and they are now unified through Christ:93 3:11

(1) National Barriers: There is no longer Greek and Jew; there is no longer circumcised and uncircumcised

(2) Cultural Barriers: There is no longer barbarian and Scythian94

(3) Social Barriers: There is no longer slave and free

(4) The Centrality of Christ: Christ is presently all95 and in all96

2. Positive Paraenesis--”Put On” Christ: As God’s very special people, Paul urges the Colossians to cloth themselves with the graces that are characteristic of Christ and thus to live their lives as Christ would by interacting with one another in a manner which promotes peace and unity through love 3:12-17

a. Clothe Yourselves: As God’s very special people, Paul urges the Colossians to clothe themselves in relationships with the graces that are characteristic of the Lord resulting in love and harmony in the body 3:12-14

1) Imperatival Statement: As God’s holy, chosen, and loved one’s97 who have already put on the new man (3:10), the Colossians are to clothe themselves in relationships with the graces which are characteristic of the Lord 3:12a

2) Examples98 of Godly Characteristics: The Godly characteristics which the Colossians are to clothe themselves with in their relationships with others are as follows:99 3:12b

a) Heartfelt Compassion (σπλάγχνα οἰκτιρμοῦ)

b) Kindness (χρηστότητα)100

c) Lowliness (ταπεινοφροσύνην)101

d) Gentleness (πραῦτητα)102

e) Longsuffering (μακροθυμίαν)103

3) Means of Putting on The Godly Characteristics: The Colossians are to put on the graces of God by forbearing with one another, forgiving one another, and most of all loving one another 3:13-14

a) Forbearing: The Colossians are to put on the graces of God by forbearing104 with one another 3:13a

b) Forgiving: The Colossians are to put on the graces of God by forgiving105 each other when one has a complaint against another just as Christ forgave them 3:13b-c

(1) Statement: The Colossians are to put on the graces of God by forgiving each other when one has a complaint against another 3:13b

(2) The Model of Motivation is Christ: The Colossians must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven them 3:13c

4) Crowning Grace--Love: The Colossians are to crown the graces of Christ by putting on love106 which brings about perfect harmony107 3:14

b. Live as Christ: Paul urges the Colossians to live their lives as Christ would by letting the peace which Christ brought to the body rule in the body, by becoming a thankful people to God, by teaching and admonishing one another in accordance with Christ’s instruction, and by doing all things in their lives in accordance with the character (name) of Christ 3:15-17

1) Let Christ’s Peace Rule: Paul urges the Colossians to let the peace of Christ rule in their hearts because they were called to be one body in peace 3:15a-b

a) Statement: Paul exhorts the Colossians to let the peace of Christ rule108 in their hearts109 3:15a

b) Reason: The reason the Colossians should let Christ’s peace rule in their hearts is because they were called to be one body in peace 3:15b

2) Become Thankful: Paul exhorts the Colossians to become110 a thankful people to God 3:15c

3) Let Christ’s Word Dwell: Paul urges the Colossians to let the word of Christ richly dwell in them as they teach and admonish one another in harmony 3:16

a) Statement: Paul urges the Colossians to let the word of Christ111 richly dwell in them as they teach and admonish one another 3:16a

b) Means: Paul urges the Colossians to let the word of Christ richly dwell in them as they wisely teach and admonish one another in harmony with one another (e.g., with Spirit-inspired psalms, hymns, and songs, and by singing thankfully to God with their whole being)112 3:16b

4) Do All Things in the Name of Jesus: Paul urges the Colossians to do all things in their lives (word and deed) in a way which is consistent with the character (the name) of the Lord Jesus Christ giving thanks to God the Father through Him 3:17

B. “Be Subject” in Household Life--Christ’s Rule Should be Evidenced within Households:113 Paul urges a reciprocal responsibility to one another in households in view of Christ as their Lord:114 wives & husbands, children & parents/fathers, and slaves & masters 3:18--4:1

1. Wives & Husbands:115 Paul exhorts wives to submit themselves to their husbands, and counters with the obligation for husbands to love their wives and not to become embittered against them 3:18-19

a. Wives: Wives are exhorted to submit themselves to their husbands within the new fellowship of those who own Christ as Lord (as is fitting in the Lord)116 3:18

b. Husbands: Paul exhorts husbands to love their wives and not to become embittered against them 3:19

1) Love: Husbands are exhorted to love117 their wives 3:19a

2) Do Not Be Harsh: Husbands are exhorted to not be harsh118 with their wives 3:19b

2. Children & Parents/Fathers: Paul exhorts children to obey their parents in all that they do as that which is acceptable to the Lord and counters with an exhortation to fathers to stop stirring up their children with the result that they may become discouraged 3:20-21

a. Children and Parents: Paul exhorts children to obey their parents in all that they do because this is acceptable to the Lord 3:20

1) Obey: Paul exhorts children119 to obey120 their parents in all things 3:20a

2) Reason--Acceptable: The reason (γὰρ) Paul exhorts Children to obey their parents in all things is because this obedience is pleasing (acceptable)121 to the Lord 3:20a

b. Fathers and Children: Paul urges fathers to stop provoking their children with the result that they may become discouraged  3:21

1) Stop Provoking: Paul urges fathers122 to stop provoking123 their children 3:21a

2) Not Discouraged: Fathers are not to provoke their children with the result that they may become discouraged124 3:21b

3. Servants & Masters: Paul urges slaves to completely obey their earthly masters from the heart knowing that they will be judge by the Lord, and counters by urging masters to treat their slaves justly and fairly knowing that they too will be accountable to the Lord as their judged and Master 3:22--4:1

a. Servants:125 Paul urges servants to completely obey their earthly masters from their hearts doing their work as for the Lord with the knowledge that He will reward them for their service, and deal with their evil 3:22-25

1) Entire Obedience: Paul urges slaves to give entire obedience126 to their earthly masters 3:22a

2) From the Heart: Paul urges slaves not to give their obedience only from an external viewpoint, but from their heart as they reverence (fear) the Lord127 3:22b

3) Work for the Lord: Paul urges slaves to do their work from the heart (soul) as for the Lord Christ and not just for men knowing that the Lord will reward them for their service 3:23-24

4) Warning: Paul also warns slaves that the Lord will not overlook their evil, but will repay them for wrong that they do128 4:25

b. Masters: Paul urges masters to treat their slaves justly and fairly knowing that they too will be accountable to the Lord as their Master and judge 4:1

1) Exhortation--Treat Justly and Fairly: Paul exhorts masters (οἱ κύριοι) to treat their slaves justly and fairly129 4:1a

2) Motivation--Their Lord: The reason masters are to treat their slaves justly and fairly is because they know that they too have a master in heaven130 4:1b

C. “Watch and Pray” in Earthly Life--Persistence in Prayer and Right Behavior Toward Outsiders:131 Paul urges the Colossians to persist in prayer for the Lord’s return as well as for Paul’s gospel ministry and to be wise in their behavior toward unbelievers taking every opportunity with gracious, yet appealing words in response to their questions 4:2-6

1. Intercession--Watching in Prayer for Themselves and Paul: Paul urges the Colossians to persevere in prayer for the Lord’s return as well as intercede for the gospel ministry through Paul and those with him 4:2-4

a. Pray: Paul urges the Colossians to persevere in prayer as they watch for the Lord’s return132 with thanksgiving133 4:2

b. Intercede: Paul urges the Colossians to intercede in prayer for him and those with him134, namely, that God might open up a door135 for the gospel message136 and that he might make it known as he should 4:3-4

2. Missionary Responsibility--Walking with Unbelievers: Paul urges the Colossians to be wise in their behavior with unbelievers by snapping up every opportunity that comes with a gracious, yet appealing word in response to their questions 4:5-6

a. Walking in Wisdom: Paul urges the Colossians to be wise in their behavior towards unbelievers (outsiders)137 by snapping up every opportunity that comes with them 4:5

b. Witnessing in Wisdom: Paul urges the Colossians to speak in a gracious, yet appealing138 way so that they might answer the questions of others with knowledge139 4:6

V. Conclusion--Personal Greetings, Instructions, and Benediction:140 Paul concludes his letter to the Colossians by commending their own Tychicus and Onesimus, by sending greetings from his Jewish and Gentile co-workers as well as to the church of Laodicea and Nympha along with the church in her house, by giving various instructions, and by praying for God’s grace to be upon the Colossians 4:7-18

A. Commendations: Paul commends Tychicus as a significant partner in the ministry and Onesimus as a faithful and loved brother 4:7-9

1. Tychicus:141 Paul commends Tychicus as a significant partner in the ministry and reports that he will inform them of all of the news concerning Paul and the team so as to encourage them 4:7-8

a. Commendation: Paul commends Tychicus as his beloved brother, a faithful minister and a fellow-servant in the Lord 4:7a

b. Report: Paul is sending Tychicus to report all of the news concerning him and those with him142 and to strengthen their hearts143 4:7b-8

2. Onesimus:144 Paul commends Onesimus as being one of the Colossians’ own whom he regards as faithful and loved, and who will report everything concerning Paul to them along with Tychicus 4:9

a. Commendation: Paul commends Onesimus who is coming with Tychicus as being faithful, a beloved brother, and one of the Colossians 4:9a

b. Report: Paul again reports that Onesimus and Tychicus will tell them all that is happening with them in Paul’s imprisonment (Rome) 4:9b

B. Greetings: Paul sends greetings from the Jewish and Gentile co-workers among him as well as to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house 4:10-15

1. Jewish Greetings: Paul sends greetings from the few Jewish-Christian co-workers among him who provide him comfort--Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus 4:10-11

a. Aristarchus:145 Aristarchus, Paul’s fellow-prisoner, sends the Colossians greetings 4:10a

b. Mark:146 Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, sends the Colossians greetings and the Colossians are to welcome him in accordance with the instructions which they have already received if he comes to them 4:10b-c

1) Greeting: Mark, the cousin of Barnabas sends the Colossians greetings 4:10b

2) Welcome Mark: The Colossians are to welcome Mark if he comes to them in accordance with the instructions which they have already received 4:10c

c. Jesus/Justus: Jesus who is called Justice sends the Colossians greetings 4:11a

d. Jewish Summary: Aristarchus, Mark, and Justice are the only Jewish Christians among his fellow-workers for God’s kingdom, and they have been a comfort to Paul 4:11b

2. Gentile Greetings: Paul sends greetings from his Gentile co-workers among him--Epaphras, Dr. Luke, and Demas 4:12-14b

a. Epaphras: Paul sends greetings from Epaphras who is one of the Colossians and commends him as a servant of Christ who ministers on behalf of those in Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis 4:12-13

1) Greeting: Paul sends Greetings from Epaphras who is one of the Colossians and a servant of Christ Jesus 4:12a

2) Commendation: Paul commends Epaphras as always being in prayer for the Colossians that they may stand perfect in God’s will and that he works tirelessly for them as well as for the Laodiceans and those at Hierapolis 4:12b-13

a) Prayer: Paul commends Epaphras as one who is always striving in prayer for the Colossians that they may stand perfect and be filled with all that is God’s will 4:12b

b) Work: Paul vouches for Epaphras that he works tirelessly for the Colossians and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis 4:13

b. Dr. Luke: Paul sends greetings from their mutual friend Luke, the doctor 4:14a

c. Demas: Paul sends greetings from Demas 4:14b

3. Paul’s Greetings: Paul sends his greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, as well as to Nympha and the church in her house 4:15

C. Instructions: Paul instructs the Colossians to switch letters with the church at Laodicea, to urge Archippus to complete the ministry which he received in the Lord and to remember Paul’s bonds 4:16-17

1. Exchange Letters: After the Colossians have read this letter among them that are to give it to the church in Laodicea to read and are to read the letter sent by Paul to Laodicea147 4:16

2. Tell Archippus: Paul urges the Colossians to tell Archippus to complete the ministry which he received in the Lord 4:17

3. Remember Bonds: As Paul writes the greeting in his own hand he urges the Colossians to remember his bonds148 4:18a

D. Benediction: Paul prays that God’s grace might be with the Colossians 4:18b


1 This outline is a composite adaptation of several outlines by Stanley D. Toussaint, “Colossians” (unpublished class notes in 308 Pauline Epistles and Revelation, Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1983), pp. 5-6; Curtis Vaughan, “Colossians,” in Expositors Bible Commentary, pp. 170-171, Herb Bateman, “Introductory Matters for Colossians” an unpublished paper, Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, p. liv, and my own work in the book of Colossians.

2 Paul seems to be establishing his credentials with a congregation who did not know him personally.

3 This would be significant in light of the attacks by the false teachers who were bringing the Colossians’ relationship with God into question as the false teachers sought a closer one through their religious activities.

4 See Colossians 1:27. This hope was part of the gospel which was preached to them (1:23).

5 Paul is foreshadowing his arguments against the heresy. This gospel is “true” and has spread world wide as opposed to the limited circle of the Colossian heresy!

6 The gospel probably came from Ephesus through Epaphras (Acts 19:10). Epaphras then reported about the welfare of the church to Paul.

7 The term is πληρωθῆτε.

8 The term is ἐπίγνωσιν.

9 Again, the content of this prayer should be seen in view of what the false teachers are promoting through their religious exercises. Paul is praying for a more intense knowledge (ἐπιγνωσις) than the false teachers’ knowledge (γνωσις). Paul’s prayer is for a knowledge which leads to godly living in accordance with wisdom and the Spirit, rather than the theoretical knowledge of the false teachers.

10 An infinitival construction indicates the purpose for which the readers are to be filled with knowledge (to walk worthily), and four participles define more precisely what is involved with walking worthily.

11 Though not developed at this point in the letter, all of these are in contrast to the effects of the false teachers’ “wisdom”.

12 This is in contrast with the works (religious asceticism and false humility) of the false teachers

13 These descriptions (endurance, joy, patience) hint at the enabling of the Holy Spirit who indwells believes and enables them to be obedient (cf. Galatians 5).

14 Many understand verses 12-14 to be in the style of a confession with its first person plurals (“we” and “us”).

15 Most NT scholars consider Colossians 1:15-20 to be a pre-Pauline “hymn” (or creed) which he incorporated into his letter.

It is true that the verses are in hymnic style. This is especially seen when the exalted language of 1:15-20 (without personal references) is compared against the direct speech of 1:21-23 (with personal references).

But it is not necessarily true that the verses are pre-Pauline. It could be that Paul was using a hymn which he had earlier composed with interpretative additions or expansions in view of his audience, or that Paul is expressing his beliefs about Christ in a hymnic style making use of a method which his readers would appreciate (cf. O’Brien, Colossians, pp. 40-42).

16 The phrase is εἰκων τοῦ θεοῦ. In Jesus the very nature and character of God have been perfectly revealed (cf. John 1:18; 2 Cor. 4:4,6; cf. 3:18; Heb. 1:3)

O’Brien understands image to include the Hellenistic-Jewish background of “wisdom” as the expression of divine revelation (“The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way before His works of old [Proverbs 8:22, NASB];”For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty [Wisdom 7:25, RSV; cf. John 1:4; Heb. 1:3]; Colossians, pp. 43-44).

The term describes a derived likeness like a photograph--not an accidental likeness. It is an image derived from God. It is an image like on the coins of Caesar (cf. John 1:18; 14:9; 2 Cor. 4:4,6). Jesus is (ἐστιν) the eternal image!

17 The term is πρωτότοκος. Contextually this term cannot include Christ among created things as the “eldest” of creation (cf. Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:18 where προτότοκος is used of a person in a class [“brethren”, “dead”] and the class is plural) since in the next verse He is the one through whom the whole creation came into being (Col. 1:16).

Here the term is used with creation (πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως) making Jesus distinct. Also, if Jesus is the “first born of creation” as one of many, then how can he be unique (μονογονη). Therefore, it looks at temporal priority and sovereignty of rank as a title which emphasizes that Jesus is the heir of creation--like the first-born of a family (cf. Heb. 1:2; LXX Ps. 89:27 [“I also shall make him My first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth”]; cf. also Ex. 4:22; TDNT 6:873-876). As O’Brien writes, He is both prior to and supreme over that creation since he is its Lord” (Colossians, p. 45).

18 Paul expresses an exhaustive sense for “all things” when he writes in merisims which are in Hebrew parallelism:

“In heaven and on the earth,”

“visible and invisible,”

Now Paul emphasizes that even the cosmic-angelic powers (whether good or evil) were also created by Christ (cf. Rom. 8:38; 1 Cor. 15:24; Eph. 1:21): “thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities.” This would have specific allusion to the Colossian heresy.

This verse is a fatal blow to any theory of emunations.

19 The aorist passive tense communicates that God was the Creator and that this occurred as a historical fact (ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα). The perfect tense of this verb in its next occurrence (ε῞κτισται) focuses upon creation’s continuing existence.

The phrase “in Him” (ἐν αὐτῷ) could have an instrumental sense (through Him and thus = to δι᾿ αὐτοῦ, but this is employed below), or perhaps the sense of “sphere” (in his sphere or realm, cf. Eph. 1:4).

In the sense of “wisdom” Christ is the master workman of Creation (cf. Prov. 8:30).

20 The Greek is δι᾿ αὐτοῦ --Jesus is the instrumental cause of creation (cf. Jn. 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6).

21 The Greek is εἰς αὐτὸν with the sense of unto him or for him.

22 The Greek is πρὸ πάντων communicating Jesus’ temporal priority to the universe. There was never a time when he was not!

23 The Greek is καὶ τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν affirming that Jesus is the sustainer of the universe and the unifying principle of life. The verb is in the perfect tense emphasizing that Jesus’ sustaining work has occurred and is on-going (cf. Heb. 1:2-3).

24 See 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23.

25 The clause is a purpose clause (ι῞να).

26 O’Brien writes, “The hymn had previously asserted Christ’s primacy in creation; it now mentions his primacy in resurrection. In both new creation and old the first place belongs to him alone” (Colossians, p. 51).

27 The fullness, πλήρωμα, most probably refers to God in all of his fullness and is the subject of the verb “to dwell.” God in all of His divine essence and power chose (was pleased) to take up residence in Christ.

28 The Greek term is ἀποκαταλλάξαι. Although God is the one who initiated the reconciliation, it is all things that need to be reconciled to Him (and not Him to all things).

That “all things” have been reconciled does not mean that nothing in creation will be lost. The “all things” refers to everything in its scope. The sense is that the universe has been brought back into its divinely created and determined order (O’Brien, Colossians, p. 56). Much has received that reconciliation voluntarily but some (evil angels, and unredeemed men) receive it in an imposed, compulsorily manner. They will submit to Christ as Ruler! They were defeated at the cross.

29 Through the resumption of the language of direct speech, the Apostle Paul interprets and applies statements of the hymn to the readers.

30 These three terms may be cultic in nature contributing to the image of the Colossians as unblemished sacrifices. However, it is also possible that the point is a judicial one--especially in view of the last term (irreproachable, ἀνέγκλητος). Paul’s point is that he desires to present the Colossians in a perfect state.

31 This is a conditional statement (ει῎ γε ...). While it is a “simple condition” assuming that reality of the premise--that they will continue (Dana and Mantey ¶ 275, p. 289), the use of the particle γέ emphasizes the conditional aspect of ει῎ (Ibid., ¶ 229, p. 260).

Therefore, Paul assumes that they will continue in the faith, but offers a true warning that they will not be blameless if they do not continue. While this may seem at first to fly in the face of reconciliation (see O’Brien, Colossians, p. 69), it does agree with the doctrine of the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3; Luke 19). Here however, Paul is encouraging the Colossians to not be led astray in their faith, and is assuming that they will respond well to this exhortation. In the following verse Paul will emphasize that his ministry is to present believers morally and doctrinally pure.

32 The term is πάθημα meaning “suffering,” “affliction,” or misfortune” (cf. Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 1:5-7; Phil 3:10; 2 Tim. 3:11; Heb. 2:9; 10:32; 1 Pet. 1:11; 4:13; 5:1-9). Paul uses the term to describe the afflictions in which all Christians participate as part of the sufferings of Christ (Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 1:5-7; cf. Phil. 3:10).

33 This verse has been interpreted in several ways: (1) there is still some lacking in the vicarious sufferings of Christ which must be supplied by the apostle; but see 2:13,14; cf. 1:12-14, 19-22; Heb. 9:27-28; 1 Pet. 3:19, (2) the genitive is objective meaning suffering for the sake of Christ; but this does not explain the phrase “what is lacking”, (3) the genitive is a genitive of quality referring to sufferings which resemble those of Christ; but this again does not explain “what is lacking, (4) Paul’s suffering is a mystical union with Christ, but how does this leave some lacking, (5) the sense is apocalyptic identifying the sufferings with the “woes of the Messiah” which were inaugurated with the death of Christ but will continue until messiah returns (cf. Acts 14:22; 1 Thess. 3:3,7; Rom. 8:17,38-39). As O’Brien writes, “Though presently exalted in heaven Christ continues to suffer in his members, and not least in Paul himself” (Colossians, p. 80; cf. Acts 9:16; 13:47; Isa. 49:6).

Christ has left the church to suffer, but this is not atoning, redemptive: (1) Sufferings--afflictions (θλιψεων) is never used of Christ’s sufferings on the cross, (2) Christ’s vicarious sufferings were completed (Heb. 9:27-28; 1 Pet. 3:18), (3) This concept is elsewhere in the NT (2 Cor. 1:5-7; 4:10; Phil. 3:10; Acts 9). We are those who continually experience the push of evil against us as Christ’s representatives (the body), just as He (the Head) felt it. This will occur until the return of Christ in the outworking of victory over evil.

34 Acts 9; cf. Romans 15:19. As O’Brien writes, “Paul’s comission [sic] to make the Word of God fully known has led to the ministry of that Word, through his associate Epaphras, at Colossae and thus make the Colossians beneficiaries of his apostolic commission, even though he had not visited them in person” (Colossians, p. 83)

35 The term is μυστήριον describing a secret, or something which was previously hidden, but now is made known. It is not the existence of the church so much as the nature of the church (e.g., one body comprised of Jews and Gentiles).  Here it is expressed as God indwelling both Jews and Gentiles indiscriminately which is an assurance of our future hope.

36 Paul is not arguing that the mystery was only partially revealed in the OT, but that it was not revealed at all in the OT (cf. Col. 1:26; Eph. 3:5). Its foundation is with the NT prophets and apostles, not the OT. See Hoehner, “Ephesians” in BKC for a further discussion (p. 629).

37 See also Romans 16:25-27; 1 Corinthians 2:6-10; Ephesians 3:4-11.

38 The mystery was not that Gentiles would be saved since the OT spoke of that, but that believing Jews and Gentiles would be joined together (cf. Ephesians 3:6).

Christ in them is the center of the mystery. It is Christ’s indwelling which makes the disparate bodies into one!

39 Paul uses the pronoun “we” to describe the work of himself and his colleagues--especially those coworkers like Epaphras who brought the gospel to Colossae (1:7-8).

40 Paul’s ministry was evangelistic and discipleship oriented.

41 These following verses express the goal of this letter, and thus explain the applicational section which Paul picks up in chapters 3--4. The false teachers are threatening unified living under the work of Christ (in the home and toward outsiders). Paul is correcting the erroneous instruction which could lead the church astray, and then reaffirming their orderly Christian life and stable faith under the proper view of Christ.

42 No doubt the false teachers are producing a disunity as they seek this deeper knowledge of Jesus. Paul is affirming that the knowledge of Jesus comes through the experience of his work of unification through love.

43 Verses 6-7 are pivotal summarizing much of what has preceded and setting forth the positive instruction which serves as the basis for the attack on the heresy. In these verses the apostle instructs the readers about true Christian behavior before dealing with the false teaching. It seems that one must first know the truth before one can deal with error.

44 One’s method of justification determines one’s method of sanctification. As the Colossians began the Christian life by submitting to Christ as Lord they were now to go on living under that lordship as those incorporated into him (in Him [Christ]).

45 Paul uses the image of a tree and thanksgiving as in 1:10. The first three verbs are all passive emphasizing that God is the one who is at work in them.

46 The first two verbs come from a comparison with a tree. One is to conduct one’s life according to their foundational beginning in Christ which can be built upon.

47 See Paul’s prayer in 1:10-12. This thanksgiving probably relates to all of the things that God has done in their past. If there is not a clear understanding of God’s great deliverance, then it is unlikely that there will be joy and thanksgiving by a believer.

48 The term is συλαγωγέω (only here in the NT) meaning “to carry off as booty,” or “as a captive”

49 The term is φιλοσοφίαι. Perhaps Paul uses this term because it was used by the false teachers themselves in a positive way. Paul clarifies their philosophy as being full of “empty deceit” (καί κενῆς ἀπάτης). He is not against all philosophy, but a certain kind of philosophy which is empty as opposed to the “riches” and “treasures” of wisdom and knowledge in Christ (1:27; 2:3).

50 This was a teaching which was passed onward from teacher to teacher and may have included “sacred initiation rites”. This may have specific reference to the Jewish traditions (Mishnah/Talmud) which were to be a “fence around the Law”.

51 The Greek is στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου which may have reference to the “ABCs” fundamentals of the world including spirits of the universe, all basic teachings, or the Law (cf. Gal. 4:3,9).

52 See 1:19.

53 “It is in union with Christ alone that they posses this fullness already” (O’Brien, Colossians, p. 113). Therefore, they need not pay respect to the angelic beings since Christ is their head.

54 See the Pauline parallel in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5.

55 The phrase “by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ” may have two possible meanings: (1) it refers to the Pauline teaching of “putting off the old nature (cf. Col. 3:9; Rom. 6:6; 7:24) affirming that baptism has replaced circumcision, or (2) it refers to the death of Christ affirming that the circumcision is metaphorical of Christ’s death which then divested the principalities and powers. As O’Brien writes, “Assuming the two phrases, ‘in the stripping away of the body of flesh’ and ‘in the circumcision of Christ,’ are constructed alike (by regarding the two genitives as objective), then the meaning is that the body of flesh was stripped off when Christ was circumcised, that is, when he died; the whole statement is ‘a gruesome figure for death’ (Beasley-Murray, Baptism, 152). Here is a circumcision which entailed not the stripping off of a small portion of flesh but the violent removal of the whole body in death” (Colossians, p. 117).

56 “In the uncircumcision of your flesh.”

57 O’Brien writes, “But these spiritual powers had not been annihilated. In that triumphal procession they were visible. They continue to exist, inimical to man and his interests (Rom 8:38, 39). Nevertheless they are powerless figures unable to harm the Christian who lives under the lordship of Christ. How foolish is it then for the Colossians to think, as the false teachers want them to, that they needed to grovel before these weak and beggarly elements as though they controlled the lines of communication between God and man” (Colossians, p. 133).

58 An outline or a sketch in contrast to reality (cf. Heb. 4:9) where the sabbath is a picture of God’s Millennial rest (cf. also John 5).

59 Paul is affirming that the adherence to the code of the Mosaic Law was transitory until the coming of Christ and His new order. It is through a relationship with Christ that one finds full closeness with God now, not through cultic observances.

60 It seems that through the practice of “self-abasement” (as a prelude to receiving heavenly visions) and the “worship of angels” (which may not be an objective genitive, but a subjective one, e.g., worship which angels perform) was to have visions (“entering”) which gave one a close experience with God (cf. F. F. Bruce, “Colossian Problems Part 3: The Colossian Heresy”: Bibliotheca Sacra 141 (1984): 194-208). The above terms were probably “catch-words” of the deceptive philosophy of the false teachers.

61 See 2 Corinthians 12:4.

62 O’Brien writes, “The application to the Colossian situation is clear: The false teacher who does not depend on the head has no contact with the source of life and nourishment, and does not belong to the body. The community must realize that they must remain in living union with Christ as the head. Let them not be drawn off or enticed away by the appeal of the false teachers to their heavenly experiences” (Colossians, p. 148).

63 The believer’s death was already discussed above (2:11). Now Paul develops the false-teachers approach to this doctrine.

The phrase is στοιχείων τοῦ κόσμου again. It is difficult to be sure what Paul has in view. Perhaps the code of the Law above, or the provision of spiritual beings to bring one close to God, or more broadly, any foundational system to bring one closer to God--”regulations” here (ABCs, cf. Gal. 4:9; Heb. 5:12; Col. 2:8)..

64 These seem to have reference to food regulations. Could this not be the Jewish code of the Law again which is used in an ascetic manner?

65 See Isaiah 29:13 (LXX).

66 The false teachers affirm that they have freely chosen this form of worship, but they are wrong is Paul’s point.

67 This is a pivotal paragraph which rounds off what has been said concluding Paul’s polemic and presents the correct way for believers to walk.

68 See Colossians 2:12.

69 They are to participate in their resurrection life through Christ. Also there is an eschatological sense involved. They are to seek their future position with Him in the age to come which has been inaugurated.

70 See Psalm 110:1. It seems that the rule of Messiah has been inaugurated. Since Jesus is in a place of supreme authority, no principality or power can prevent a believer’s access to Him. Therefore, Paul urges the Colossians to continue to aim at their resurrection life with Christ.

71 Paul desires for the Colossians to be focused in their will upon Christ and His instruction (sober consideration and firm purpose) rather than upon visionary experiences of heavenly mysteries through the false teachers.

72 See Colossians 2:11,12,20; Romans 6.

73 The phrase is κέκυπται σὺν Χριστῷ. While this may mean that the new life of Christians is a secret to be uncovered, another more probable sense is that the new life of Christians is already in heaven stored up with Christ (2:3; cf. Eph. 2:6 ). As O’Brien writes, “our life is hidden with Christ because we died with him and have been raised with him to new life; ‘in God’ because Christ himself has his being in God and those who belong to Christ have their being there too .... Centered in God means that the hidden life is secure, unable to be touched by anyone” (Colossians, p. 166).

74 This begins a lengthy paraenetic section of the epistle. With insight O’Brien writes, “Four distinctive catchwords of early Christian catechesis are found at the head of their respective paragraphs: ‘put to death’ (3:5-11; cf. also ‘put off,’ v 8); ‘put on’ (3:12-17); ‘be subject’ (3:18-4:1) and ‘watch and pray’ (4:2-6).” (Colossians, p. 174).

The exhortations of 3:1-4 (“Seek the things above” and Set the mind on the things above”) have their specific expression in the imperatives which follow. To seek the things above, one must be involved in spiritual warfare below; one must put to death sinful propensities and pursuits, and allow the new nature to find outward expression in a godly life (Ibid., pp. 175-176).

75 “Therefore,” refers back to the context of 2:20--3:4 and 3:3-4 in particular.

76 This recalls the union with Christ in his death above (2:20; 3:3; cf. 2:11-12).

77 More literally “the things on earth” picks up the language of 3:2. Also “members” (τὰ μέλη) is best understood against the background of “the body of sin” in 2:11 which has been stripped off in the circumcision of Christ (O’Brien, Colossians, p. 176).

By talking about the “things on the earth” Paul is referring to a believer’s old life. His “members” refer to refer to the sins which his members committed (e.g., a metonomy of the cause for the effect).

Therefore, to put to death the members which are upon the earth is to cease doing evil in relationships by a changing of the will, or attitude of mind (cf. Rom. 6:11). It is a dying to self when self stands to do evil to others (see the list which follows). It is not a mortification of the flesh” in a traditional ascetic manner (e.g., not enjoying oneself so as to gain control over the body or to acquire merit).

78 There is a progression in this vice-list from outward manifestations of sin to inward cravings of the heart (the inner springs of evil).

79 This term can describe a broad range of sexual misbehavior including fornication, incest, temple prostitution, etc. (cf. Lev. 17--18).

80 Although the term generally means moral uncleanness, it denotes moral sexual conduct when used with πορνεία. The meaning of πορνεία is developed through this term and the next two.

81 This is descriptive of shameful passion which leads to sexual excess (cf. 1 Thess. 4:5; Rom. 1:26).

82 When desire is modified by “evil” one has evil desire which may than be extended toward its object (cf. Matt. 5:28; Mk. 4:19). This is an expression of sin which dwells within.

83 While it is very possible that the coveting here has its reference to a desire to lay one’s hands on material things, it is also possible in view of the context that the focus is upon sexual overtones (cf. the cognate in 1 Thess. 4:6). If it is descriptive of the sexual, than this is a strong statement that God considers such activity to be idolatry--an honor of that which leads one away from God. Could this be related to people being in the image of God?

84 The term is ἀποτίθημι meaning to “put off” or “put away” as in clothing (Acts 7:58)  Paul is urging the Colossians to discard their old repulsive habits like a set of worn-out clothes.

85 Anger and rage go together. Perhaps the former is a more settled feeling of hatred and the latter is more of an outburst of passion, but they are in essence the same thing, and are destructive of harmony in the body (Eph. 4:31).

86 This term is also descriptive of an evil force which destroys fellowship. It seems to include evil speech (cf., Rom. 1:29; Eph. 4:31). It may be an intention to harm through slander and abusive language.

87 This term means “slander,” “defamation,” “blasphemy,” (BAG, 143). This is an attempt to vilify either man or God by lies or gossip (cf. Titus 3:2).

88 This may well be obscene speech or abusive language. Such language ought to be stopped before it comes out.

89 This may well come out of the above discussion on slander and filthy language.

90 Here Paul is addressing their position (cf. Col. 2:6-7, 16--3:4). These participles are expressed as infinitival imperatives in Ephesians 4:22-24.

91 This is not only an individual reference discussing the Christian’s nature, but is also a corporate reference discussing his placement in humanity (e.g., in Adam” or “in Christ).

92 The Old man is the whole personality of a man ruled by sin (see Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:22).

93 See 1 Corinthians 12:13; cf. Galatians 3:28

94 For the Greeks those who could not speak Greek were considered barbarian (cf. Rom. 1:14). The “Scythian” seems to represent the lowest kind of barbarian who was probably a slave from a wretched class of people possibly from the Black Sea area.

95 Or more paraphrastically “absolutely everything” or “all that matters.”

96 Christ indwells all members of the new man regardless of race, class, or background (cf. Col. 1:27; Gal. 2:20; 4:19).

97 These descriptions are used of Israel and of Christ emphasizing the Colossians’ identification with God.

98 This five-fold list of grace characteristics is in balance with the vice-lists above (3:5,8).

99 These are in fact characteristics or graces and actions used of God Himself. This may explain Paul’s exhortation to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” in Romans 13:14.

100 Goodness, kindness, generosity.

101 This term was used earlier in the letter to describe “self-denial” in accordance with the false teaching. Here it has the sense of lowliness or humility (cf. Eph. 4:2; Phil. 2:3; 1 Pet. 5:5; Matt. 11:29).

102 The term means “gentleness,” “humility,” or “meekness”--not out of weakness, but out of a consideration for others and a willingness to waive one’s rights.

103 As O’Brien writes, “It denotes that ‘long suffering’ which endures wrong and puts up with the exasperating conduct of others rather than flying into a rage or desiring vengeance” (Colossians, p. 201).

104 The term means “to endure,” “put up with,” “bear with.”

105 The term expresses a show of grace, χαριζόμενοι, and the participle is in the present tense with the sense of unceasing, unwearying forgiveness (Matt. 18; Luke 17).

106 The term is ἀγάπην and it is another object of the imperative “to put on” in 3:12.

107 The term is one for perfections (τελειότητος). Paul is not interested so much in a personal perfection as in the maturity of a body who shows love to one another.

108 The term is βραβεύω having in its field of meaning the sense of a judge, or umpire, who presides over and presents prizes at games. Paul is urging the Colossians to allow the peace which Christ has brought upon the body to be the judging factor in their hearts as they deal with disputes in the body.

109 This is not an exhortation toward an existential relationship with Christ (e.g., a peaceful disposition, or an inward peace of the soul). Rather it is an exhortation for one to allow Christ to be present and to rule in one’s heart (the center of one’s will, thoughts, and/or emotions) during disputes.

110 The exhortation reads, εὐχάριστοι γίνεσθε, rather than εὐχάριστοι ἐστε. The imperative draws attention to the constant striving after this exalted goal as something not yet attained. Although the content of thanksgiving is not provided explicitly, it is quite possible contextually that the context is the peace which Christ has brought about in such a diverse body. Paul is exhorting the Colossians to not fight in such a way which destroys the body, but to become thankful for the unity of such a diverse body.

111 This is probably an objective genitive with the sense of the message that centers on Christ--e.g., the gospel. It is the sacrificial work of Christ in the Gospel that is to live within them as they teach and admonish one another. They are to remember that all find their measure of worth at the foot of the cross.

112 See also Ephesians 5:19.

113 This unit includes three pairs of exhortations. The issue at hand is attitudes of one person in the body to another. This type of unit is called a “house-table” in the literature (haustafel in German, meaning a list of rules for the household). The movement is from the closest relationships to the more distant ones (i.e., couples to slaves & masters).

Each unit states the party, has a reciprocal exhortation in the imperative, and the reason or motivation for the behavior (except for those to husbands and fathers). The exhortation to slaves (22-25) is expanded breaking the sequence somewhat (O’Brien, Colossians, p. 219-220). For parallels see 1 Timothy 2:8-15; 6:1-2; Titus 2:1-10; 1 Peter 2:18--3:7; Ephesians 5:22--6:9.

As O’Brien writes, “Perhaps the devotees of the false teaching at Colossae were indifferent to mundane and domestic affairs. If so, then Paul has to indicate to the congregation that this teaching is pernicious, and that the Colossians are to be recalled to the simple duties of family life. The apostle has already summoned his readers to ‘set their minds on things that are above’ (3:2), for a life ruled from above where Christ is reigning is precisely a life in marriage, parenthood and everyday work. Right behavior in these areas is the proper outworking of seeking the things above (Ibid., p. 233).

114 See 3:18,20,24,25; 4:1.

115 O’Brien writes, “In each case the subordinate member is mentioned first and is exhorted to be subject (ὑποτάσσομαι) or to obey (ὑπακούω). Wives, children and slaves are addressed equally with their husbands, fathers and masters. They too are ethically responsible partners who are expected to do ‘what is fitting in the Lord’ just as the male, the father and the free man. But the exhortations to subordination do not stand alone; immediately the second member of each pair is addressed and reminded of his responsibilities. The twin admonitions stand together and the first ought not to be interpreted apart from the second ...” (Colossians, p. 220).

116 The verb is in the middle voice: ὑποτάσσεσθε. Wives are being exhorted to continue to place themselves under the influence of their husbands in accordance with Christ’s design.

117 The obligation of the wife finds its counterpart in this charge to her husband. The verb for love is ἀγαπᾶτε. This term speaks of more than affection ( φιλὲω) or even sexual attraction (ἐράω) but of unceasing care and loving service for her entire well being. This love is exemplified in Ephesians 5:25-33.

118 The Greek καὶ μὴ πικράινεσθε πρὸς αὐτάς. This is the negative form of the positive injunction (antithetical parallelism?). The sense is to become embittered, incensed, or angry.

119 These are children (Τὰ τέκνα) who are probably still growing up and under the care of their parents (cf. Eph. 6:4)

120 This injunction is not in the middle voice as above with wives, but in the active imperative (ὑπακούετε) meaning absolute obedience. This is strengthened by the phrase “in all things.”

121 See Titus 2:9; Romans 12:1,2; 14:18; 2 Corinthians 5:9; Ephesians 5:10; Philippians 4:18; cf. Col. 1:10.

122 While the term is one for fathers (οἰ πατέρες) is could also have the sense of parents (cf. Heb. 11:23). There is, however, probably an emphasis upon fathers.

123 The the verb is a present imperative prohibition demanding that the action then in progress be stopped (μὴ ἐρεθίζετε). The verb is employed positively in 2 Corinthians 9:2 “your zeal has stirred up most of them.” Here is a “stirring up” so as to irritate perhaps by nagging, deriding, or even ignoring them.

124 The term is ἀθυμῶσιν denoting the loss of heart, or a becoming timid. Paul does not wish for the children to become discouraged as they try to please their parents--especially fathers. The positive counterpart is in Ephesians 6:4.

125 “Paul is addressing the tension between the freedom given in Christ (cf. 3:11) and the ‘slavery’ in which Christian slaves are to continue to serve their earthly masters (cf. 1 Cor. 7:21-24)” (O’Brien, Colossians, p. 226).

126 The Greek is like that with children (ὑπακούετε κατὰ πάντα).

127 Again, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Prov. 1:7; 23:17).

128 This will be at the judgment seat of Christ when evil works will result in a loss of reward (cf. Luke 19:11-27; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10-12; 1 Cor. 3:12-15; 4:4,5).

129 Although Paul does not command the masters to free their slaves he does exhorts them to do that which is just and fair (τὸ κίκαιον καὶ τὴν ἰσότητα). They were to treat them in accordance with what was right, and to treat in an even-handed, impartial, fair way--perhaps even as equals.

130 The motivation for slaves and masters is really the same at this point. Both will be judged by The Judge--Christ Jesus. Therefore, both have the same standard of conduct toward one another.

131 This unit in Colossians is parallel to the close of paraenetic sections in other Pauline letters (cf. 1 Thess. 5:12-22; Gal. 5:25--6:6; Phil. 4:8-9). Unlike the above household exhortations, these are for the entire congregation.

132 Perhaps the prayer itself was to be for the coming of the Lord’s kingdom (Matt. 5:9-10; 1 Cor. 16:22; cf. Rev. 22:20).

133 Perhaps this is again a thankfulness for the deliverance which the Lord has already brought to pass in their lives through redemption (cf. 3:15,16).

134 Probably Timothy (1:1), Epaphras (4:12,13) are included in this.

135 This is a pray that God would make a provision of opportunity by giving him a field in which to work (cf. 1 Cor. 16:9; 2 Cor. 2:12; Acts 14:27).

136 The mystery of Jews and Gentiles in one body (cf. 1:26; 2:2) for which he is imprisoned by the hostility of the Jews (Acts 22--28).

137 The term is ε῎ξω. Perhaps these “outsiders” are actually the false teachers.

138 Seasoned with salt could well have the Jewish sense of wisdom involved (e.g., the Torah was like salt). In this case Paul would be saying that one should speak in wisdom. One is to speak the right word when one asks a question.

139 It seems that this is how Paul desires for them to address the false teachers.

140 Notice this same form in 1 Corinthians 16:19-24; Romans 16:1-23; Philemon 23-25; Philippians 4:21-23; and Ephesians 6:21-24).

141 See also Acts 20:4; 2 Timothy 4:12; Titus 3:12.

142 Much communication was done by word of mouth in the ancient world. While this letter contained more of the urgent and doctrinal matters, personal remarks would be passed on orally.

143 This strengthening would have probably been through admonishing the congregation with Paul’s teaching.

144 This is probably the same Onesimus as in Philemon 10.

145 He was a Macedonian of Thessalonica (see Acts 19:29; 20:4; 27:2).

146 This is John Mark of Acts 12:12,25; 13:13; 15:36-41; Philemon 24; 2 Tim. 4:11; 1 Pet. 5:13.

147 There are several views about this letter: (1) it was a letter written from Laodicea to Paul but this is improbable, (2) it was the epistle to the Ephesians (this is very possible even through O’Brien discounts it since he understands Ephesians to have been written after Colossians, but there is not agreement on this, and it is difficult to tell), (3) it was Philemon, but Philemon lived at Colossae, (4) it was a letter which did not survive (see O’Brien, Colossians, pp. 257-259).

148 This may well mean to make mention of him in prayer, to call him to God’s remembrance (LXX 2 Sam. 14:11; Ps. 62:6; cf. 6:5).

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines