Colossians 3-4 Perfect and Complete in the Will of God

TMS Philippians 4:13 The Strength of Christ
4:13 (“11 Not that I speak in respect to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it. 12 I know how to be humbled, and I know also how to abound. In everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in need.")

13 "I can do all things
through Christ,
Who strengthens me.”

Observations: 4:13 Sometimes doing what God wants seems impossible. However, God will always give us all we need to do His will if we are depending upon Him (Hebrews 13:21; 2 Corinthians 9:8). He is the source of supernatural strength necessary for living the Christian life (John 15:5). An abiding, dependent relationship with the Lord Jesus allows His Spirit/strength to flow into our lives and do all He calls us to do and be. That is not only the secret of accomplishment but also contentment. See context and comments on Philippians 4 for more.

Application: Christ will strengthen us to do His will if we faithfully depend upon Him.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thanks that in You I always have all I need to live the life You desire for me; may I be faithful to walk through today with You. Amen.


Colossians 3-4 In the previous chapter (Colossians 2:12-13), Paul said believers were buried and raised with Christ (on the basis of their faith in the working of God), so they could live a new life. He now tells them how to live that life so they can be rewarded with the glory God has planned. Seeking our future glory gives us the motivation to sacrifice the glory of this life, and be transformed to live in love and wisdom. We can't please God by living like we used to; we need to live as He wants us to. See under Digging Deeper for an audio sermon on Living The Christian Life After The Cross.

Colossians 3 Seek Glory Above and Walk In Love
3:1 "If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with Him in glory.
5 Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; 6 for which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience. 7 You also once walked in those, when you lived in them;
8 but now you also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and shameful speaking out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his doings, 10 and have put on the new man, who is being renewed in/by knowledge after the image of his Creator, 11 where there can’t be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondservant, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all.
12 Put on therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if any man has a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do. 14 Above all these things, walk in love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly; in/by all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another; with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to the Lord. 17 Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through Him.
18 Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and don’t be bitter against them.
20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, don’t provoke your children, so that they won’t be discouraged.
22 Servants, obey in all things those who are your masters according to the flesh, not just when they are looking, as men pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God.
23 And whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he who does wrong will be repaid for the wrong that he has done, and there is no partiality."

Observations: 3:1-4 Those raised with Christ are commanded (imperative) to seek as their chief ambition, the things that are above (where Christ is, ie, their eternal reward), not the temporal trinkets on earth. The right hand of the emperor is where the future king of a conquered territory sat at the victory banquet. Christ is seated in the position of honor and glory waiting to take up His Messianic rule in the future kingdom, which He will share with those faithful to Him. That is what we should seek. Those who will miss out on their inheritance will do so because they are disobediently seeking the stupid stuff of earth instead. The overwhelming testimony of the Scripture is that God doesn't bless those who are disobedient. Faithful obedience doesn't happen automatically, but is the result of a mindset. Therefore Paul tells the believers to set their minds on pleasing God, and being blessed by Him. This is parallel to his instruction to the Ephesians that they have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. But for those blessings to be experienced, believers need to please God (hence the need for writing the epistles). The reason Paul gives for believers obeying is because they have died to their old life and their new life is now bound up or hidden with Christ, as they are in union with Him. If that continues, when He, who is our life (source of every breath we take and action we do, as well as source of future power) is revealed (at His second coming), we who are in union with Him will also be revealed as sons of glory (Matthew 16:27Matthew 19:28Matthew 25:31-34; Hebrews 2:10; 1 Peter 1).
3:5-7 The means or manner in which believers set their minds and lives toward heavenly objectives is by putting to death the immoral desires and behaviors of their old life. Covetousness, a violation of the tenth commandment, is the desire for more (of that which gives temporal worth, value, and pleasure) and is equated with idolatry. Those believers who don't kill their temporal desires will wish they had come judgment day. Paul uses the coming judgment as the motivation for obedience. This is not a reference to unbelievers being tossed into the lake of fire, but of God's disobedient and displeasing children being judged for behaving badly (cf Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 5:6 comments). Verse 7 clearly refers to the former behavior of his believing audience.
Ephesians 5:6 "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience."
The reason we sin as believers is because we want to. The reason we want to is because we think that such behavior is beneficial to us. Even when we realize it isn't good for us, we engage in evil because we've developed evil habits. See “It Ain't Gonna Reign No More” on Truthbase.net for help in renewing your values and life. See exposition on Romans 8:13 on how to put to death the deeds of the body by the Holy Spirit
Romans 8:13 "For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."
3:8-11 Not only are believers to put bad behaviors to death, they are to put off/remove self-centered attitudes and actions from their life as well, and put on/embody other-centered attitudes and actions. The items mentioned are necessary for Biblical Body building, the emphasis in what follows (cf Ephesians 4). The list in verse 8 is self explanatory (see Galatians 5 comments on the works of the flesh for elaboration). The last item, abusive or dishonorable speech is probably, in this context, putting others down to boost one's self-worth, which in reality, diminishes it in God's sight. Lying to others, to pridefully present a more positive perspective of oneself than reality warrants, is a sad self-deception. No one is fooled, except the liar. Paul tries to motivate his audience by saying that such behavior belongs to the old man, not the new man in Christ, which is being renewed into the image of Christ (see comments on Romans 12:1-2 for the renewal process). The new man is composed of renewed individuals who's identity is that of a Christian. What they were before is largely irrelevant. Christ, not ethnicity, religiosity, nor cultural nor social status is the basis of who they are now.
3:12-17 Just like old habits and identities don't go away unless we take appropriate action, God's chosen, holy and beloved children need to choose to learn and put on new behaviors in their interactions with each other. The list in verses 12-13 is also self-explanatory. You might want to think about how you've demonstrated each toward others in the past month. Christ forgave us without our asking (cf Luke 23:34), which is necessary to prevent bitterness (Hebrews 12:15) but brought us into fellowship with Himself when we acknowledged our wrong doing and repented. We are to forgive others, regardless of whether or not they repent, but we don't need to fellowship with them until they do (cf. Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 5 on church discipline). It is not in the best interest of a sinning believer to continue to sin against others. Love requires appropriate reproof and restoration. Walking in love is having our actions and attitudes guided by what is in the other person's best interest, not our comfort. If you are tempted to complain about the pain of loving others, remember how Christ loved you. Putting on love is the bond or belt which hold the relationships together. Verse 15 is usually cited out of context as applying to decision making, when in reality, doing God's will, especially involving difficult change can cause initial anxiety (cf Jesus in the Garden). The Colossian context is that of believers living in peace and harmony with each other as the Body of Christ. Like in Ephesians, the Colossians are to be a unified body (temple) in which God dwells. Being thankful for a fellowship of like-minded Christ followers in a self-centered world aids the unity. Letting the word of Christ (His teachings) dwell/abide in us is the key to being able to build up others with wise instruction and admonishment/warning. We speak the truth to each other, but sing with psalms, etc., to God. Such singing isn't just mouthing words, but that which flows from a heart pulsating with the grace of God. Not all who sing joyfully have a good relationship with God, but those who don't sing with their hearts, don't have a heart energized by His grace. In Ephesians Paul reached the climax of Body life in 5:21, submitting to each other in the fear of God. Here he says that whatever we do, in word or deed, should be enabled by a concern for the name/reputation/glory of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through Him.
3:18-25 Paul now addresses the same three pairs of subordinated relationships as He did in Ephesians 5-6 (see comments there). The command to wives is in the middle voice, in which the subject does something for their own benefit (see 1 Peter 3 comments). “As is fitting” emphasizes the duty/obligation. Husbands are to love their wives, sacrificing themselves to do what is in their wife's best interest. “Bitterness” also has the meaning of “be irritated.” Children are to obey their parents in everything as the means of pleasing the Lord, who will watch out for those who please Him. Fathers are not to provoke their children to anger (KJV) so they won't be discouraged or disheartened. A father who is never satisfied or always angry with his children (because he didn't train them properly) breaks the spirit of the child. The goal is to break the will, and shape the spirit. See Parenting Resources on Truthbase.net and the synopsis in TOYL. 
The bulk of Paul's comments concern servants and masters, because the idea of working for a reward is dominant in the epistle. Servants/employees are to do their work heartily as if they are serving the Lord. Worship is a response to revelation, so responding to this revelation by doing their work fo the Lord, turns it into worship. An employee is not a slave bound to a master. If an employee can't follow the Biblical instructions for work, nor fulfill their other Biblical responsibilities because of work, it's time to trust God for a job in which they can fulfill all their responsibilities. See the Work As Worship sermon on Truthbase.net. Note that this does not mean worshiping work. (Americans have been described as a people who worship work, work at play, and play at worship.) One isn't doing their work as worship nor for the Lord, if they neglect the other things the Lord has commanded, especially relationships and ministry. That would not be fearing God.
See TOYL for how to develop a Biblical balance. We should work not just to fulfill the minimum requirements, but strive to give more service than that for which we are compensated, as long as we don't neglect other responsibilities. Sometimes, people get their worth and value from giving their lives to get praise from their workplace, but lose out on getting praise from God. The person who works for the Lord's approval knows that the Lord will give them the reward of the inheritance. This is a great verse to show that inheritance is a reward, just as it was in the OT. Israel had to work to get and maintain the blessings in the Promised Land. The one who fails to work heartily as for the Lord, does what is wrong and will be repaid with loss of reward (1 Corinthians 3:15; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10). This is not justification by works, but glorification by works.

Application: Born again believers need to put away bad behavior and put on new attitudes and actions in order to live the new life which God rewards.

Prayer: God, thanks that You want what's best for me; help me do and be all that You desire. Amen.

Colossians 4 Walk in Wisdom and Be Perfect and Complete
4:1 "Masters, give to your servants that which is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.
2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving; 3 praying together for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds; 4 that I may reveal it as I ought to speak.
5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
7 All my affairs will be made known to you by Tychicus, the beloved brother, faithful servant, and fellow bondservant in the Lord. 8 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts, 9 together with Onesimus, the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you everything that is going on here. 10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, greets you, and Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you received commandments, "if he comes to you, receive him"), 11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the Kingdom of God who are of the circumcision, men who have been a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, salutes you, always striving for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. 13 For I testify about him, that he has great zeal for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for those in Hierapolis. 14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas greet you. 15 Greet the brothers who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the assembly that is in his house. 16 When this letter has been read among you, cause it to be read also in the assembly of the Laodiceans; and that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 Tell Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you fulfill it." 18 The salutation of me, Paul, with my own hand: remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen."

Observations: 4:1 This is an unfortunate verse division, which clearly belongs in the last chapter. Masters need to give to their employees what is just and fair. God hates injustice and judges those who engage in it.
4:2-4 Paul starts to conclude the epistle with a request for prayer, but reminds the Colossians to be ever vigilant and watchful in prayer against the attacks of the enemy. This is parallel to the end of the spiritual warfare section in Ephesians. This is the fifth admonition to be thankful. Thanksgiving acknowledges that God has given the blessing and circumstances one has, and fosters dependent trust for the future. If I'm aware that God has given all I have needed in the past, then I can trust Him for my present needs, as well as those of the future. Thankfulness also diminishes discontent. You can find a number of outlines on the topic on Truthbase.net, as well as a Biblical Survey of Prayer. Paul requests that they pray for God to open a door for him to boldly speak the mystery of Christ, that the Gentiles are equal heirs with the Jews in the promises of the Messiah. That message is why the Jews sought to kill him (see Acts) and why he was currently in prison. It's also why prayer is needed since the satanically motivated Jews sought to suppress the message.
4:5-6 Paul commands the believers to walk/live in wisdom (choosing the right objectives for their lives, as well as the right means of obtaining them) toward the unbelievers. The means of walking wisely is to redeem (buy back) the fleeting hours of each day by exchanging them for what has eternal value (see comments on Ephesians 5:16). The souls of others rank pretty high on the heavenly value scale. Verse 6 doesn't have a separate finite verb, but it modifies verse 5. The wise believer will learn to cultivate communication that is empowered by grace (God's power), seasoned with salt (used in Greek of wit, which makes people thirst for more), knowing how to respond to each individual person, according to what is appropriate and beneficial.
4:7-11 Paul turns attention to the visit of Tychicus and Onesimus which is for the purpose of sharing news and teaching of Paul, and receiving news about the Colossians for Paul. Note the common characteristic of faithfulness (the major criteria of our future judgment – see Semper Fi at the end of the TOYL booklet). Onesimus was a slave who had robbed his Colossian master Philemon, had met Paul, was converted, and sent back to Philemon with the eponymous epistle. Aristarchus was a companion of Paul on his missionary journey (Acts 19:29; 27:2). Verse 10 gives some insight into the split between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark, Barnabas' cousin in Acts 15:36-41. There were only two fellow Jews working with Paul for the inclusion of the Gentiles in the Kingdom which God promised in the OT (Isaiah 40; see comments on Matthew introduction).
4:12-16 Epaphras, at one time a fellow prisoner with Paul (Philemon 1:23) not only taught the Colossians (1:7) but fervently labored and fought for them in prayer that they would stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. This involves doing what is pleasing in His sight so as to receive the blessing He intends for His loyal and faithful saints. This is the goal of the Christian life on earth. It is not automatic, but a result of teaching to obey (Matthew 28:20) and prayerful ministry. Notice that it is so much more than getting sins forgiven. This passage is the one that tells us that Luke was a physician, and that Demas was a co-laborer. One of the saddest verses in the NT is 2 Timothy 4:10 which tells us that this companion and fellow laborer with Paul, forsook him, because he was seduced by and loved this present world. Not even Paul's teaching and prayers could save Demas from destroying his future. His fate is so much the worse, because, as Dr. Luke recorded, to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). Paul instructs the Colossians to swap letters with the lukewarm Laodiceans, who Christ said were on track to lose their glory/reward.
Revelation 3:16 “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' --- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked ---18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."”
4:17-18 Paul ends with an admonition/encouragement to Archippus, a fellow-soldier (Philemon 1:12) who apparently had received a commission from the Lord as had Paul (1 Corinthians 15:3). Nothing else is known of him. The interesting thing is the function of the Body in encouraging such an individual to fulfill or bring to completion the responsibility/ministry the Lord had entrusted to him. Paul signs with his own hand, and asks them to remember his bonds (third reference - Colossians 4:3,10,18). The reminder is of his willingness to suffer for the benefit of others, as they should too. They had life because Christ was willing to suffer. They heard about life because Paul was willing to suffer. They were taught because Epaphras was willing to suffer. The route to glory is through suffering (see comments on Mark 10:45), so the Colossians should be willing to suffer for others on their route to their glorious inheritance. Paul ends with a shorter benediction, wishing them the blessing of grace.

Application: Life is short; make it count for eternity, by using every hour for God's pleasure and the benefit of others.

Prayer: God, may I be perfect and complete in all Your will, as You desire; show me what ever You want me to do, and help me trust You to bring it about. Amen.


Digging Deeper:

God in a nutshell: God will pour out His wrath on His disobedient children who seek to live for just this world rather than His will.

Build-a-Jesus: The Lord Jesus sits at the right hand of God awaiting the inauguration of His Messianic rule, when He will reward His faithful servants in whom His word dwells.

Us in a nutshell: We need to be transformed to be able to live as God desires; that involves choosing to put to death our old self-centered desires and habits, and putting on the Christ-like characteristics that enable us to minister to others.


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