­­­Colossians Study – Session 10

CrossPointe Community Church – Denton, TX

April 7, 2013 - Larry Reynolds, Teacher

 

Colossians 3:1-4:6 is a description of the life to which God calls believers.  In this section Paul lists five things that believers should do:

1.      Seek and set your minds on things above (3:1-4)

2.      Slay and put away the vices of the old nature (3:5-11)

3.      Put on the virtues of the new nature (3:12-17)

4.      Behave becomingly in family relationships (3:18-4:1)

5.      Be faithful in religious duties (4:2-6)

 

4.     Behave becomingly in family relationships (3:18-4:1) – The preceding paragraph dealt with general attitudes and characteristics which should be in the lives of Christians.  This paragraph makes specific application of those general attitudes and characteristics.  It is important to understand that this paragraph is talking more about responsibilities than privileges.  As you read this, focus more on what you are to do than what the other person is to do.

 

Two broad principles underlie this section on Christian relationships:

a.     Christian relationships are built on reciprocal obligations – It is never the Christian way for all the duties to fall to one side of the relationship and all the privileges to the other side.  Husbands have as great an obligation as wives.  Parents have as great obligation as children.  Masters have as great an obligation as slaves.  This was an entirely new and revolutionary concept in the 1st century world.  It is essential to understand the reciprocal nature of the relationships mentioned in this passage.  Both parties must fulfill their obligations for the relationship to work properly. 

b.     Christians recognize that all relationships are “in the Lord” – Jesus is a partner in all Christian relationships and that changes the dynamic of the relationship.

 

With those two things in mind, want to quickly explore three common relationships that Paul touches on in this passage.  In each case Paul spells out the main obligation/responsibility of the parties in the relationship.

 

Husband/wife relationship (verses 18-19)

·        “Wives be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” (18) – This is one of the most misunderstood and misused verses in the Bible.  I want to make it clear that this verse is not saying the wife is inferior to the husband or subservient to the husband.  The parallel passage in Ephesians 5 makes it clear that the submission in the husband/wife relationship is a mutual  submission.  Paul begins that passage by saying, “…be subject to one another in the fear of Christ…” (Eph. 5:21)  The key to understanding that phrase is understanding the verb “be subject.”  The verb had two meanings.  It was a military term meaning “to line up under” like soldiers would line up under their commanding officer.  Some take that to be the meaning here.  But since we are to be subject to each other, interpreting the verb that way would mean that every Christian must line up under every other Christian, which really makes no sense.  The other way the verb was used was to mean “having an attitude of humility and selflessness.”  It is just the opposite of asserting yourself.  It means to graciously defer to another.  I think that’s the meaning here.  The wife is to graciously defer to and respect her husband.  That does not mean the husband should not graciously defer to and respect his wife.  But Paul is recognizing a special need in men, the need to be respected and taken seriously.

·        “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them.” (19) – This speaks to a special need in the lives of women.  While generally have a driving need to be respected, women generally have a driving need to be loved.  This verse does not mean that wives should not love their husbands.  It does mean that husbands should take great care to make sure their wives feel loved.  As one person rightly said, “There would be a lot more submissive wives if there were more loving husbands.”  The phrase “do not be embittered against them” is just an expression of love.  It means husbands should not be harsh, sharp, unkind toward their wives.

 

Parent/child relationship (verses 20-21)

·        “Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.” (20) – The foundation of this duty is the 5th commandment which instructs us to honor our fathers and our mothers.  The phrase “in all things” is limited by our highest obligation which is to God.  There could be a rare situation where one’s higher obligation to obey God would  take precedence over one’s obligation to obey his/her parents.

·        “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not  lose heart.” (21) – The word translated “fathers” can mean parents in general.  The idea behind this phrase is do not be impossible to please.  While parents must discipline their children, they must also encourage their children.

 

Master/slave relationship (verses 22 – 4:1) – Interesting that Paul devotes only two verses to husbands/wives and children/parents, but he devotes five verses to masters/slaves.  I think there are two reasons for that.  It is estimated that nearly 1/3 of population of the ancient world consisted of slaves.  Many Christians came from this population.  How to relate to their earthly masters was a big issue.  Also, this letter was sent back to Colossae along with Onesimus, a run-a-way slave, whose master, Philemon, was in the church at Colossae.

 

While the NT neither condemns nor condones slavery, it does attempt to modify it.  And, it puts in place some principles which eventually led to the destruction of slavery.

·        Verses 22-25 are directed toward slaves.  There are some principles here about how Christians should approach their work, whatever their work may be.  Basic thrust of all that is that God's people should  do their work with diligence.  Look at some of the phrases: 

o   "external service" (literally "eye-service") ‑ Means doing the  minimum necessary to get by...working with no real  enthusiasm or diligence...

o   "merely pleasing men" ‑ Working just to please person  or people for whom working...see no larger purpose  in work...fail relate work to God's call on life…

o   "sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord" ‑ Do your work  in such a way that it will stand the scrutiny of  the Lord...

·        Verse 4:1 is directed toward masters.  Colossians 4:1 contains an idea which would have been viewed as nothing less than revolutionary in the 1st century world... “Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness...”...there was no such requirement of masters by 1st century law...they were completely free to do whatever they wanted to a slave...but that’s not way should be among God’s people...

o   “justice” - Often used in NT describe one’s standing before God...not enough live up to conventional community morality in relation to co-workers...must do what is acceptable to God..

o   “fairness” - Simply means to do what is right...

             

     Point is we are to treat our co-workers in right way...for employees, that means giving an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay...for employers, that means compensating those who work for us fairly and treating them with dignity and respect...

 

5.     Be faithful in religious duties (4:2-6)

 

1)    “Devote yourselves to prayer” (2) - The word translated “devote” in first part of v.2 carries idea of holding steadfastly to something...the verb is a compound word which literally means “to hold fast and not let go” or “to be courageously persistent”...therefore, the phrase “devote yourselves to prayer” means to be steadfast in your prayer life...don’t give up on prayer...don’t become discouraged...don’t quit...keep at it on a regular basis... the Living Bible renders the phrase, “Don’t be weary in prayer, keep at it.” [TLB]  What does a devoted prayer life look like?

·        “keeping alert” - The phrase literally means, in its most basic sense, “to stay awake physically”...we’re not going to pray with much power if we’re dozing off in the middle of prayer... But think there’s a deeper meaning to the phrase “keeping alert in it” than mere physical alertness...think it means our prayers should not be mechanical or careless...we should carefully think through what we take before God...one commentator translates the phrase “keeping alert in it” as “give your whole mind to it” [TCNT]...

·        “with an attitude of thanksgiving” - Point is, every prayer should contain an element of thanksgiving...don’t see how it is possible to turn to God in prayer without being thankful for the incredible privilege of coming into His presence and for all that He has done for us...prayer and gratitude go hand in hand....where there is no gratitude there will be no prayer...and where there is no prayer, there is no gratitude...

·        “that God will...” - What want you to see in that is that Paul asked that they pray for something concrete and specific...too often our prayers are vague and general, not asking for anything in particular...but when look at the prayers in the NT and especially at the model prayer (which is often referred to as the Lord’s Prayer), it’s clear the NT teaches us to pray for specific things...in the Model prayer Jesus mentioned a number of specific requests...

--give us our daily bread...

--forgive us our debts...

--do not lead us into temptation...

--deliver us from evil...

 

2) “Conduct yourself with wisdom toward outsiders…” (5) – The word outsiders” refers to those who are outside the fellowship...I believe the term can refer to both unbelievers and believers who, for whatever reason, have fallen away from the church...there is both a positive and negative side to this command...

--on the negative side, we are not to do anything to further alienate and antagonize those who are outside the fellowship...

--on the positive side, we are to live in such a way that others will be attracted to us and to the Lord we serve...

     Nietzsche, the German philosopher, said, “I will believe in the redeemer’s God if I can see Him in the redeemed.”...and the truth is the only thing some people will ever know about the Lord to Whom we claim allegiance is what they see of Him in us...

 

3)  “…making the most of the opportunity…” (5) – The phrase is more literally translated “redeeming the time”...

--”making the most” is a term borrowed from the market place...it means to snap up a bargain...to take advantage of a sale or special deal...

--”opportunity/time” doesn’t mean time in the sense of seconds, minutes, and hours...it means an occasion for acting, for doing something significant...

 

4)  “…let your speech…” (6) – In addition to watching how we walk, we must watch how we talk… our speech should be—

 

--Gracious - The verse says, “Let your speech always be with grace...”...gracious speech is speech which is kind, encouraging, uplifting, pleasant, attractive...

 

--Interesting - The verse says our speech should be “seasoned, as it were, with salt”...I like salt...as a matter of fact, like salt so much it can be bad for my physically...salt makes bland, boring foods tasteful and interesting...and our speech as followers of Christ should be interesting...of all people, we certainly should have something of value and of interest to add to a conversation...

 

--Appropriate - The last part of the verse says, “so that you may know how you should respond to each person...”...it is important that we learn how to say the right things at the right time...Scripture tells us in I Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”...and the Lord reminds us in the gospels that it is the Holy Spirit living in us who enables us to do that...

 

Colossians 3:18 – 4:6 deals specifically with interpersonal relationships and outward conduct.  Why do you think the Bible has so much to say about such things?

Comments