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Bible Commentaries
Colossians 3

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

If then ye were raised together with Christ (ε ουν συνηγερθητε τω Χριστω). Condition of the first class, assumed as true, like that in Colossians 2:20 and the other half of the picture of baptism in Colossians 2:12 and using the same form συνηγερθητε as then which see for the verb συνεγειρω. Associative instrumental case of Χριστω.

The things that are above (τα ανω). "The upward things" (cf. Philippians 3:14), the treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:20). Paul gives this ideal and goal in place of merely ascetic rules.

Seated on the right hand of God (εν δεξια του θεου καθημενος). Not periphrastic verb, but additional statement. Christ is up there and at God's right hand. Cf. Colossians 2:3.

Verse 2

Set your mind on (φρονειτε). "Keep on thinking about." It does matter what we think and we are responsible for our thoughts.

Not on the things that are upon the earth (μη τα επ της γης). Paul does not mean that we should never think the things upon the earth, but that these should not be our aim, our goal, our master. The Christian has to keep his feet upon the earth, but his head in the heavens. He must be heavenly-minded here on earth and so help to make earth like heaven.

Verse 3

For ye died (απεθανετε γαρ). Definite event, aorist active indicative, died to sin (Romans 6:2).

Is hid (κεκρυπτα). Perfect passive indicative of κρυπτω, old verb, to hide, remains concealed, locked "together with" (συν) Christ, "in" (εν) God. No hellish burglar can break that combination.

Verse 4

When Christ shall be manifested (οταν ο Χριστος φανερωθη). Indefinite temporal clause with οταν and the first aorist passive subjunctive of φανεροω, "whenever Christ is manifested," a reference to the second coming of Christ as looked for and longed for, but wholly uncertain as to time. See this same verb used of the second coming in 1 John 3:2.

Ye also together with him (κα υμεις συν αυτω). That is the joy of this blessed hope. He repeats the verb about us φανερωθησεσθε (future passive indicative) and adds εν δοξη (in glory). Not to respond to this high appeal is to be like Bunyan's man with the muck-rake.

Verse 5

Mortify (νεκρωσατε). First aorist active imperative of νεκροω, late verb, to put to death, to treat as dead. Latin Vulgate mortifico, but "mortify" is coming with us to mean putrify. Paul boldly applies the metaphor of death (Colossians 2:20; Colossians 3:3) pictured in baptism (Colossians 2:12) to the actual life of the Christian. He is not to go to the other Gnostic extreme of license on the plea that the soul is not affected by the deeds of the body. Paul's idea is that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). He mentions some of these "members upon the earth" like fornication (πορνειαν), uncleanness (ακαθαρσιαν), passion (παθος), evil desire (επιθυμιαν κακην), covetousness (πλεονεξιαν) "the which is idolatry" (ητις εστιν ειδωλολατρια). See the longer list of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21, though covetousness is not there named, but it is in Ephesians 4:19; Ephesians 5:5.

Verse 6

Cometh the wrath of God (ερχετα η οργη του θεου). Paul does not regard these sins of the flesh as matters of indifference, far otherwise. Many old MSS. do not have "upon the sons of disobedience," genuine words in Ephesians 5:6.

Verse 7

Walked aforetime (περιεπατησατε ποτε). First aorist (constative) indicative referring to their previous pagan state.

When ye lived (οτε εζητε). Imperfect active indicative of ζαω, to live, "ye used to live" (customary action). Sharp distinction in the tenses.

Verse 8

But now (νυν δε). Emphatic form of νυν in decided contrast (to ποτε in verse Colossians 3:7) in the resurrection life of Colossians 2:12; Colossians 3:1.

Put ye also away (αποθεσθε κα υμεις). Second aorist middle imperative of old verb αποτιθημ, to put away, lay aside like old clothes. This metaphor of clothing Paul now uses with several verbs (αποθεσθε here, απεκδυσαμενο in verse Colossians 3:9, ενδυσαμενο in verse Colossians 3:10, ενδυσασθε in verse Colossians 3:12).

All these (τα παντα). The whole bunch of filthy rags (anger οργην, wrath θυμον, malice κακιαν, railing βλασφημιαν, shameful speaking αισχρολογιαν). See somewhat similar lists of vices in Colossians 3:5; Galatians 5:20; Ephesians 4:29-31. These words have all been discussed except αισχρολογιαν, an old word for low and obscene speech which occurs here only in the N.T. It is made from αισχρολογος (αισχρος as in 1 Corinthians 11:6 and that from αισχος, disgrace). Note also the addition of "out of your mouth" (εκ του στοματος υμων). The word was used for both abusive and filthy talk and Lightfoot combines both ideas as often happens. Such language should never come out of the mouth of a Christian living the new life in Christ.

Verse 9

Lie not to another (μη ψευδεσθε εις αλληλους). Lying (ψευδος) could have been included in the preceding list where it belongs in reality. But it is put more pointedly thus in the prohibition (μη and the present middle imperative). It means either "stop lying" or "do not have the habit of lying."

Seeing that ye have put off (απεκδυσαμενο). First aorist middle participle (causal sense of the circumstantial participle) of the double compound verb απεκδυομα, for which see Colossians 2:15. The απο has the perfective sense (wholly), "having stripped clean off." The same metaphor as αποθεσθε in verse Colossians 3:8.

The old man (τον παλαιον ανθρωπον). Here Paul brings in another metaphor (mixes his metaphors as he often does), that of the old life of sin regarded as "the ancient man" of sin already crucified (Romans 6:6) and dropped now once and for all as a mode of life (aorist tense). See same figure in Ephesians 4:22. Παλαιος is ancient in contrast with νεος (young, new) as in Matthew 9:17 or καινος (fresh, unused) as in Matthew 13:52.

With his doings (συν ταις πραξεσιν αυτου). Practice must square with profession.

Verse 10

And have put on (κα ενδυσαμενο). First aorist middle participle (in causal sense as before) of ενδυνω, old and common verb (Latin induo, English endue) for putting on a garment. Used of putting on Christ (Galatians 3:27; Romans 13:14).

The new man (τον νεον). "The new (young as opposed to old παλαιον) man" (though ανθρωπον is not here expressed, but understood from the preceding phrase). In Ephesians 4:24 Paul has ενδυσασθα τον καινον (fresh as opposed to worn out) ανθρωπον.

Which is being renewed (τον ανακαινουμενον). Present passive articular participle of ανακαινοω. Paul apparently coined this word on the analogy of ανανεομα. Ανακαινιζω already existed (Hebrews 6:6). Paul also uses ανακαινωσις (Romans 12:2; Titus 3:5) found nowhere before him. By this word Paul adds the meaning of καινος to that of νεος just before. It is a continual refreshment (καινος) of the new (νεος, young) man in Christ Jesus.

Unto knowledge (εις επιγνωσιν). "Unto full (additional) knowledge," one of the keywords in this Epistle.

After the image (κατ' εικονα). An allusion to Genesis 1:26; Genesis 1:28. The restoration of the image of God in us is gradual and progressive (2 Corinthians 3:18), but will be complete in the final result (Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2).

Verse 11

Where (οπου). In this "new man" in Christ. Cf. Galatians 3:28.

There cannot be (ουκ εν). Εν is the long (original) form of εν and εστιν is to be understood. "There does not exist." This is the ideal which is still a long way ahead of modern Christians as the Great War proved. Race distinctions (Greek Hελλην and Jew Ιουδαιος) disappear in Christ and in the new man in Christ. The Jews looked on all others as Greeks (Gentiles). Circumcision (περιτομη) and uncircumcision (ακροβυστια) put the Jewish picture with the cleavage made plainer (cf. Colossians 3:2). The Greeks and Romans regarded all others as barbarians (βαρβαρο, Romans 1:14), users of outlandish jargon or gibberish, onomatopoetic repetition (βαρ-βαρ).

A Scythian (Σκυθης) was simply the climax of barbarity, bar-baris barbariores (Bengel), used for any rough person like our "Goths and Vandals."

Bondman (δουλος, from δεω, to bind),

freeman (ελευθερος, from ερχομα, to go). Class distinctions vanish in Christ. In the Christian churches were found slaves, freedmen, freemen, masters. Perhaps Paul has Philemon and Onesimus in mind. But labour and capital still furnish a problem for modern Christianity.

But Christ is all (αλλα παντα Χριστος). Demosthenes and Lucian use the neuter plural to describe persons as Paul does here of Christ. The plural παντα is more inclusive than the singular παν would be.

And in all (κα εν πασιν). Locative plural and neuter also. "Christ occupies the whole sphere of human life and permeates all its developments" (Lightfoot). Christ has obliterated the words barbarian, master, slave, all of them and has substituted the word αδελφος (brother).

Verse 12

Put on therefore (ενδυσασθε ουν). First aorist middle imperative of ενδυνω (verse Colossians 3:10). He explains and applies (ουν therefore) the figure of "the new man" as "the new garment."

As God's elect (ως εκλεκτο του θεου). Same phrase in Romans 8:33; Titus 1:1. In the Gospels a distinction exists between κλητος and εκλεκτος (Matthew 24:22; Matthew 24:24; Matthew 24:31), but no distinction appears in Paul's writings. Here further described as "holy and beloved" (αγιο κα ηγαπημενο). The items in the new clothing for the new man in Christ Paul now gives in contrast with what was put off (Colossians 3:8). The garments include a heart of compassion (σπλαγχνα οικτιρμου, the nobler viscera as the seat of emotion as in Luke 1:78; Philippians 1:8), kindness (χρηστοτητα, as in Galatians 5:22), humility (ταπεινοφροσυνην, in the good sense as in Philippians 2:3), meekness (πραυτητα, in Galatians 5:23 and in Ephesians 4:2 also with ταπεινοφροσυνη), long-suffering (μακροθυμιαν, in Galatians 5:22; Colossians 1:11; James 5:10).

Verse 13

Forbearing one another (ανεχομενο αλληλων). Present middle (direct) participle of ανεχω with the ablative case (αλληλων), "holding yourselves back from one another."

Forgiving each other (χαριζομενο εαυτοις). Present middle participle also of χαριζομα with the dative case of the reflexive pronoun (εαυτοις) instead of the reciprocal just before (αλληλων).

If any man have (εαν τις εχη). Third class condition (εαν and present active subjunctive of εχω).

Complaint (μομφην). Old word from μεμφομα, to blame. Only here in N.T. Note προς here with τινα in the sense of against for comparison with προς in Colossians 2:31.

Even as the Lord (καθως κα ο Κυριος). Some MSS. read Χριστος for Κυριος. But Christ's forgiveness of us is here made the reason for our forgiveness of others. See Matthew 6:12; Matthew 6:14 where our forgiveness of others is made by Jesus a prerequisite to our obtaining forgiveness from God.

Verse 14

And above all these things (επ πασιν δε τουτοις). "And upon all these things."

Put on love (την αγαπην). See Luke 3:20. The verb has to be supplied (ενδυσασθε) from verse Colossians 3:12 as the accusative case αγαπην shows.

Which is (ο εστιν). Neuter singular of the relative and not feminine like αγαπη (the antecedent) nor masculine like συνδεσμος in the predicate. However, there are similar examples of ο εστιν in the sense of quod est (id est), "that is," in Mark 14:42; Mark 15:42, without agreement in gender and number. So also Ephesians 5:5 where ο εστιν = "which thing."

The bond of perfectness (συνδεσμος της τελειοτητος). See Colossians 2:19 for συνδεσμος. Here it is apparently the girdle that holds the various garments together. The genitive (τελειοτητος) is probably that of apposition with the girdle of love. In a succinct way Paul has here put the idea about love set forth so wonderfully in Colossians 3:1.

Verse 15

The peace of Christ (η ειρηνη του Χριστου). The peace that Christ gives (John 14:27).

Rule (βραβευετω). Imperative active third singular of βραβευω, to act as umpire (βραβευς), old verb, here alone in N.T. See 1 Corinthians 7:15 for called in peace.

In one body (εν εν σωματ). With one Head (Christ) as in Colossians 1:18; Colossians 1:24.

Be ye thankful (ευχαριστο γινεσθε). "Keep on becoming thankful." Continuous obligation.

Verse 16

The word of Christ (ο λογος του Χριστου). This precise phrase only here, though "the word of the Lord" in 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:1. Elsewhere "the word of God." Paul is exalting Christ in this Epistle. Χριστου can be either the subjective genitive (the word delivered by Christ) or the objective genitive (the word about Christ). See 1 John 2:14.

Dwell (ενοικειτω). Present active imperative of ενοικεω, to make one's home, to be at home.

In you (εν υμιν). Not "among you."

Richly (πλουσιως). Old adverb from πλουσιος (rich). See 1 Timothy 6:17. The following words explain πλουσιως.

In all wisdom (εν παση σοφια). It is not clear whether this phrase goes with πλουσιως (richly) or with the participles following (διδασκοντες κα νουθετουντες, see Colossians 1:28). Either punctuation makes good sense. The older Greek MSS. had no punctuation. There is an anacoluthon here. The participles may be used as imperatives as in Romans 12:11; Romans 12:16.

With psalms (ψαλμοις, the Psalms in the Old Testament originally with musical accompaniment),

hymns (υμνοις, praises to God composed by the Christians like 1 Timothy 3:16),

spiritual songs (ωιδαις πνευματικαις, general description of all whether with or without instrumental accompaniment). The same song can have all three words applied to it.

Singing with grace (εν χαριτ αιδοντες). In God's grace (2 Corinthians 1:12). The phrase can be taken with the preceding words. The verb αιδω is an old one (Ephesians 5:19) for lyrical emotion in a devout soul.

In your hearts (εν ταις καρδιαις υμων). Without this there is no real worship "to God" (τω θεω). How can a Jew or Unitarian in the choir lead in the worship of Christ as Saviour? Whether with instrument or with voice or with both it is all for naught if the adoration is not in the heart.

Verse 17

Whatsoever ye do (παν οτ εαν ποιητε). Indefinite relative (everything whatever) with εαν and the present active subjunctive, a common idiom in such clauses.

Do all (παντα). The imperative ποιειτε has to be supplied from ποιητε in the relative clause. Παντα is repeated from παν (singular), but in the plural (all things). Παν is left as a nominative absolute as in Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:10. This is a sort of Golden Rule for Christians "in the name of the Lord Jesus" (εν ονοματ Κυριου Ιησου), in the spirit of the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 5:20). What follows (directions to the various groups) is in this same vein. Sociological problems have always existed. Paul puts his finger on the sore spot in each group with unerring skill like a true diagnostician.

Verse 18

Wives (κα γυναικες). The article here distinguishes class from class and with the vocative case can be best rendered "Ye wives." So with each group.

Be in subjection to your husbands (υποτασσεσθε τοις ανδρασιν). "Own" (ιδιοις) is genuine in Ephesians 5:22, but not here. The verb υποτασσομα has a military air, common in the Koine for such obedience. Obedience in government is essential as the same word shows in Romans 13:1; Romans 13:5.

As is fitting in the Lord (ως ανηκεν εν Κυριω). This is an idiomatic use of the imperfect indicative with verbs of propriety in present time (Robertson, Grammar, p. 919). Wives have rights and privileges, but recognition of the husband's leadership is essential to a well-ordered home, only the assumption is that the husband has a head and a wise one.

Verse 19

Love your wives (αγαπατε τας γυναικας). Present active imperative, "keep on loving." That is precisely the point.

Be not bitter (μη πικραινεσθε). Present middle imperative in prohibition: "Stop being bitter" or "do not have the habit of being bitter." This is the sin of husbands. Πικραινω is an old verb from πικρος (bitter). In N.T. only here and Revelation 8:11; Revelation 10:9. The bitter word rankles in the soul.

Verse 20

Obey your parents (υπακουετε τοις γονευσιν). Old verb to listen under (as looking up), to hearken, to heed, to obey.

In all things (κατα παντα). This is the hard part for the child, not occasional obedience, but continual. Surely a Christian father or mother will not make unreasonable or unjust demands of the child. Nowhere does modern civilization show more weakness than just here. Waves of lawlessness sweep over the world because the child was not taught to obey. Again Paul argues that this is "in the Lord" (εν Κυριω).

Verse 21

Provoke not (μη ερεθιζετε). Present imperative of old verb from ερεθω, to excite. Only twice in N.T., here in bad sense, in good sense in 2 Corinthians 9:2 (to stimulate). Here it means to nag and as a habit (present tense).

That they be not discouraged (ινα μη αθυμωσιν). Negative purpose (ινα μη) with the present subjunctive (continued discouragement) of αθυμεω, old verb, but only here in N.T., from αθυμος (dispirited, α privative, θυμος, spirit or courage). One does not have to read Jane Eyre or Oliver Twist to know something of the sorrows of childhood as is witnessed by runaway children and even child suicides.

Verse 22

Your masters according to the flesh (τοις κατα σαρκα κυριοις). "Lords" really, but these Christian slaves (δουλο) had Christ as lord, but even so they were to obey their lords in the flesh.

Not with eye-service (μη εν οφθαλμοδουλιαις). Another Pauline word (here only and Ephesians 6:6), elsewhere only in Christian writers after Paul, an easy and expressive compound, service while the master's eye was on the slave and no longer.

Men-pleasers (ανθρωπαρεσκο). Late compound only in LXX and Paul (here and Ephesians 6:6).

In singleness of heart (εν απλοτητ καρδιας). So in Ephesians 6:5. Old and expressive word from απλους (simple, without folds). See 2 Corinthians 11:3.

Fearing the Lord (φοβουμενο τον Κυριον). Rather than the lords according to the flesh.

Verse 23

Whatsoever ye do (ο εαν ποιητε). See same idiom in Colossians 3:17 except ο instead of παν οτ.

Heartily (εκ ψυχης). From the soul and not with mere eye service. In Ephesians 6:7 Paul adds μετ' ευνοιας (with good will) in explanation of εκ ψυχης.

As unto the Lord (ως τω Κυριω). Even when unto men. This is the highest test of worthwhile service. If it were only always true!

Verse 24

Ye shall receive (απολημψεσθε). Future middle indicative of απολαμβανω, old verb, to get back (απο), to recover.

The recompense (ανταποδοσιν). "The full recompense," old word, in LXX, but only here in N.T., but ανταποδομα twice (Luke 14:12; Romans 11:9). Given back (απο) in return (αντ).

Ye serve the Lord Christ (το Κυριω Χριστω δουλευετε). As his slaves and gladly so. Perhaps better as imperatives, keep on serving.

Verse 25

Shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done (κομισετα ο ηδικησεν). It is not clear whether ο αδικων (he that doeth wrong) is the master or the slave. It is true of either and Lightfoot interprets it of both, "shall receive back the wrong which he did." This is a general law of life and of God and it is fair and square.

There is no respect of persons (ουκ εστιν προσωπολημψια). There is with men, but not with God. For this word patterned after the Hebrew see Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; James 2:1 The next verse should be in this chapter also.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Colossians 3". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/colossians-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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