Colossians, Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern
1. So if you were raised along with the Messiah, then seek the things above, where the Messiah is sitting at the right hand of God (Psalm 110:1)
2. Focus your minds on the things above, not on things here on earth.
3. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God.
4. When the Messiah, who is our life, appears, then you too will appear with him in glory!
5. Therefore, put to death the earthly parts of your nature — sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed (which is a form of idolatry);
These verses resemble Yn 17:14-19; they counsel not otherworldliness and withdrawal but holiness in this world. They convey positively the same message as the negative warning of 2:16-23&NN. Compare Ко 6:1-23, 8:1-13. On Psalm 110, see Mt 22:44N.
6. for it is because of these things that God’s anger is coming on those who disobey him.
7. True enough, you used to practice these things in the life you once lived;
8. but now, put them all away — anger, exasperation, meanness, slander and obscene talk.
9. Never lie to one another; because you have stripped away the old self, with its ways,
With v. 5, Sha'ul turns from theory to practice, as in many of his letters. For other lists of sins, see Ro 1:29-31, 1С 6:9-10, Ga 5:19-21.
10. and have put on the new self, which is continually being renewed in fuller and fuller knowledge, closer and closer to the image of its Creator.
Put on the new self, as at Ep 4:24; compare 2C 5:17, Ga 6:15.
Fuller and fuller knowledge. Part of Sha'ul's anti-Gnostic polemic; see 1:19N, 2:2-3N.
The image of its Creator, see 1.15&N.
11. The new self allows no room for discriminating between Gentile and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, foreigner, savage, slave, free man; on the contrary, in all, the Messiah is everything.
A literal translation of vv. 10b-11:
...being renewed into full knowledge according to image of the one creating him, where Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, freeman have no place; rather Messiah is all things and in all. Vincent writes:
"The reference is probably shaped by the conditions of the Colossian church, where the form of error was partly Judaistic and ceremonial, insisting on circumcision, where the pretence of superior knowledge affected contempt for the rude barbarian, and where the distinction of master and slave had place as elsewhere." (M. R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, 1888)
Thus the meaning is not that among believers there is existentially no such thing as a Jew or a Gentile, but that such distinctions must not become a ground for discrimination. Here the basis of the equality among the many varieties of believers is stated to be that in all of them it is the Messiah who gives significance to everything (since he "is our life," v. 4). See Ga 3:28&N for references to Sha'ul's other statements about Jewish-Gentile equality and a discussion of what it means (and does not mean) for Messianic Judaism.
12. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with feelings of compassion and with kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
God's chosen people. This phrase is found at Ro 8:33 and Ti 1:1; see also Mt 24:31, Mk 13:27. As vv. 10-11 make clear. Gentiles who have committed themselves to God and the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua, have been grafted into Israel (Ro 11:17-24&NN) and, together with Jews who have made the same commitment, are co-sharers in what God has promised (see also Ep 2:11-3:11). However, this does not mean that — as an otherwise useful commentary says about this phrase — "Israel was God's chosen people, but under the new dispensation the Church has inherited that role." See Ro 11:16-26&NN and Ga 6:16&N for more on this subject, and the references at Mt 5:5N for other notes refuting Replacement theology.
13. Bear with one another; if anyone has a complaint against someone else, forgive him. Indeed, just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must forgive.
14. Above all these, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together perfectly;
15. and let the shalom which comes from the Messiah be your heart’s decision-maker, for this is why you were called to be part of a single Body. And be thankful —
Shalom here means something more like "wholeness" than "peace" (see Mt 10:12&N). The Messiah's wholeness or "oneness," his interest, is to do the judging, deciding, controlling and ruling in the heart of believers (compare Pp 2:1-13).
16. let the Word of the Messiah, in all its richness, live in you, as you teach and counsel each other in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude to God in your hearts.
17. That is, everything you do or say, do in the name of the Lord Yeshua, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
Compare the similar injunction at Ep 5:18-20, where "the Word of God" is replaced by "the Spirit."
18. Wives, subject yourselves to your husbands, as is appropriate in the Lord.
19. Husbands, love your wives and don’t treat them harshly.
20. Children, obey your parents in everything; for this pleases the Lord.
21. Fathers, don’t irritate your children and make them resentful, or they will become discouraged.
22. Slaves, obey your human masters in everything, not serving only when they are watching you, to win their favor, but single-heartedly, fearing the Lord.
23. Whatever work you do, put yourself into it, as those who are serving not merely other people, but the Lord.
24. Remember that as your reward, you will receive the inheritance from the Lord. You are slaving for the Lord, for the Messiah.
25. Don’t worry — whoever is doing wrong will be paid in kind for his wrong, and there is no favoritism shown.
v. 3:18-4:1 Compare Ep 5:22-6:9&NN; this passage likewise offers counsel to the same three pairs of believers.
- chapter 1
- chapter 2
- chapter 3
- chapter 4