Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Colossians 3:12 - 3:17

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Colossians 3:12 - 3:17


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

The Rule of God's Peace and Its Effect on Various Stations in Life.

The Christians' conduct toward one another

v. 12. Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering,

v. 13. forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

v. 14. And above all these things, put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

v. 15. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

v. 16. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with race in your hearts to the Lord.

v. 17. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.

The Christians being united in fellowship in Christ, it behooves them to lead a life in conformity with the intimacy and sacredness of that bond, to express in their whole lives and all their actions the love which unites them in Christ: Put on, then, as the elect of God, saints and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, humbleness, meekness, longsuffering. These are wonderful titles which the apostle applies to the Christians, and his use of them shows that he is an expert in the art of evangelical admonition. He calls the believers "elect of God," thereby indicating the source and fountain of all the spiritual blessings of God. God has chosen the Christians in Christ before the foundation of the world. According to His counsel of love He has elected certain people out of the mass of the redeemed to be holy and blameless before Him in love. Not by reason of our merits and works, but out of free grace, according to the good pleasure of His will, He has chosen us in Christ. A result of this election is that we are holy, cleansed, sanctified by the blood of the Lamb. Christ has borne the sins of all men earned forgiveness of sins for them all. The righteousness of Jesus is imputed to all that believe on Jesus Christ as their Savior. For the sake of Christ and His perfect righteousness they are holy before the face of God, without a spot or blemish. And therefore they are finally the beloved of the Lord. For the sake of Christ, His beloved Son, the Father loves us, the fullness of His good pleasure rests upon us, the complete measure of His love and mercy. These facts are the strongest possible inducements toward a holy life on our part; they should induce us to put on, to be clothed with, hearts of sympathy and compassion toward one another, that this feeling characterize our entire behavior toward one another. This term the apostle unfolds by naming some of the virtues that are combined with Christian love and compassion: kindness, a cordially loving disposition which knows no harshness; humility, lowliness of mind, that a Christian always places his own person on a lower level than that of all other believers; meekness, mildness over against his brother, which will overlook even an insult and knows no such thing as violent rage; long-suffering, which not only suffers wrong, but rejects every thought of vengeance and desires only the salvation of the sinner.

Just how these Christian virtues are brought out in practical life the apostle shows nest: Forbearing one another and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any, even as also Christ forgave you, so also doing yourselves. Christians should forbear, literally, hold one another up. No Christian is perfect as long as he walks in the flesh of this body, and in spite of all vigilance blemishes and faults will show. Therefore there must be such mutual bearing and helping, with much charitable overlooking of slights and injuries, as will bring out the charitable disposition which should characterize all believers. Together with this, however, must be found the willingness to show mercy, to forgive. It is not only a matter of bearing and forbearing, but also of cordial remitting of sins that have happened. The forbearing is general, the forgiving is usually a matter between two persons; but in both respects there must be a cheerful willingness among the Christians. For they have herein the example of Christ, which they must endeavor to emulate and equal. In the case of injuries which happen in Christian congregations, we can at the worst speak only of complaints on account of insults in comparison with the unspeakably great mass of guilt which is charged against every man before God. And yet, Christ freely gave His holy blood, His divine life, into death to earn forgiveness of sins for us. Can there be any question, then, of our being ready at all times to forgive a fellow-Christian for any wrong done to us?

The compelling motive and cause of the Christian's charitable behavior as here outlined is brought out by Paul as a climax of his admonition: But over all these things love, which is the bond of perfection. The apostle retains the figure of clothing which is put on. The final, most splendid garment, which holds all the other virtues together in the heart, is the girdle of love, of true, cordial affection for the brethren. Without love all the other Christian virtues and works are useless and vain. For love is the bond of perfection. With love binding the hearts of all Christians together, the ideal of Christian perfection is attained. This love, as Luther writes, causes us Christians to be of one mind, of one heart, of one pleasure; it unites rich and poor, rulers and subjects, sick and healthy, high and low, highly honored and despised.

This thought is enlarged in the next sentence: And the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which you were called in one body, and become thankful. Christ has gained for us the reconciliation of the Father, He has established peace between us and God. This peace He gives through the Gospel, making us certain that we are God's dear children. This peace, therefore, should rule in our hearts, be the governing principle of our lives in love. We should maintain it over against the attacks of Satan, the world, and our own flesh; we should hold firmly to the conviction that the mercy of God rests upon us. This certainty will make all Christian virtues become a habit with us as a matter of fact, for our hearts will be filled with the enjoyment of this peace, to which we were called in conversion. Thus the fact also that all we Christians together form one body will be expressed in our lives. Thus our gratitude toward God, which is growing in the same rate as our understanding of the mercy of Christ toward us, will always find opportunities to show its appreciation of the divine grace. The best proof of the grateful condition of our hearts toward God is that by which we show in our entire lives those virtues and works which meet with His approbation.

As the means for bringing about this ideal condition among the Christians St. Paul names the edification of the Word in teaching and singing: The Word of Christ, let it dwell in you richly, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, in grace singing in your hearts to God; and everything, whatever you do in word and deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. The Word of Christ is not only the sum total of His sayings as recorded in the Gospels, but the entire Word of God; for of this Christ Himself is the beginning, middle, and end. The preaching of sin and grace must dwell, must have its home, among the Christians. The Christian religion is not to be a matter of Sunday only or of the sermon alone; it should also not merely be an occasional guest in the Christian homes, but it should be a member of the household, to he used and consulted day after day. The abundant comfort and strength of the Gospel should be used abundantly, not only by the pastor in the pulpit and in the homes, but also by every individual Christian. It contains the right wisdom and teaches the right wisdom for both doctrine and admonition. Our brethren. Without love all the other Christian virtues and works are useless and vain. For love is the bond of perfection. With love binding the hearts of all Christians together, the ideal of Christian perfection is attained. This love, as Luther writes, causes us Christians to be of one mind, of one heart, of one pleasure; it unites rich and poor, rulers and subjects, sick and healthy, high and low, highly honored and despised. This thought is enlarged in the next sentence: And the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which you were called in one body, and become thankful. Christ has gained for us the reconciliation of the Father, He has established peace between us and God. This peace He gives through the Gospel, making us certain that we are God's dear children. This peace, therefore, should rule in our hearts, be the governing principle of our lives in love. We should maintain it over against the attacks of Satan, the world, and our own flesh; we should hold firmly to the conviction that the mercy of God rests upon us. This certainty will make all Christian virtues become a habit with us as a matter of fact, for our hearts will be filled with the enjoyment of this peace, to which we were called in conversion. Thus the fact also that all we Christians together form one body will be expressed in our lives. Thus our gratitude toward God, which is growing in the same rate as our understanding of the mercy of Christ toward us, will always find opportunities to show its appreciation of the divine grace. The best proof of the grateful condition of our hearts toward God is that by which we show in our entire lives those virtues and works which meet with His approbation. As the means for bringing about this ideal condition among the Christians St. Paul names the edification of the Word in teaching and singing: The Word of Christ, let it dwell in you richly, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, in grace singing in your hearts to God; and everything, whatever you do in word and deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. The Word of Christ is not only the sum total of His sayings as recorded in the Gospels, but the entire Word of God; for of this Christ Himself is the beginning, middle, and end. The preaching of sin and grace must dwell, must have its home, among the Christians. The Christian religion is not to be a matter of Sunday only or of the sermon alone; it should also not merely be an occasional guest in the Christian homes, but it should be a member of the household, to he used and consulted day after day. The abundant comfort and strength of the Gospel should be used abundantly, not only by the pastor in the pulpit and in the homes, but also by every individual Christian. It contains the right wisdom and teaches the right wisdom for both doctrine and admonition. Our constant endeavor must be not only to grow in knowledge of the way of salvation and to teach others, but also mutually to encourage one another to maintain an unflagging interest in true sanctification. This can be done also by the use of psalms, the incomparable poetry of Holy Writ, hymns which are intended chiefly for use in church services, and spiritual songs, such as are more popular in form and content, but also tell of the wonderful blessings of God for our salvation. All this should not be a mere mouth service on the part of the believers, but they should, at the same time, sing to God in their hearts, and that with grace. The mercy of God is the theme of their grateful singing, of their continuous thanksgiving, even when this is not accompanied with a single word of their mouths. In most cases, however, the sincere gratitude of the heart cannot be retained in silence, but out of the fullness of the heart the mouth will sing praises to God, the Father of all mercy. The apostle's entire admonition is therefore fitly summarized in the rule that they do everything, no matter what it is, whether it be with words or with deeds, in the name of the Lord Jesus, through whom, as our Advocate, all thanks are given to God the Father. All our words and deeds must flow from true faith in Jesus, the Redeemer, and be spoken and performed to His glory, all our words and actions being expressions of our thankfulness.