Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Colossians 3:18 - 3:25

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Colossians 3:18 - 3:25


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

The conduct of Christians in various stations in life:

v. 18. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

v. 19. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

v. 20. Children, obey your parents in all things; for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord.

v. 21. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

v. 22. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God.

v. 23. And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men,

v. 24. knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ.

v. 25. For he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done; and there is no respect of persons.

See Eph_5:22-33; Eph_6:1-8. In giving specific instructions to individual classes of Christians the apostle addresses himself first to the wives: Wives, be subject to your husbands, as it should be in the Lord. The submission of the wife to the husband is in agreement with the order of God in creation, 1Ti_2:13, not an absolute obedience, but one which every Christian wife cheerfully yields in the Lord, as it should be. As all Christians willingly acknowledge the headship of Christ and gladly obey Him according to His revealed Word, so Christian wives acknowledge the headship of their husbands and permit them to be the leaders in all matters which do not oppose the Word of God. That nevertheless an ideal marriage can and should be a partnership goes without saying.

But the husband, as the responsible head, also has a specific duty: Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. The leadership, the headship, of the husband should be exercised in love, not merely the conjugal love, which would at best be subject to great fluctuations, but with the steady, unwavering affection, of which he has an example in the love of Christ for the Church, Eph_5:25-33. This love cannot permit bitterness to creep in and spoil the relationship which the will of God demands. The man is neither master of his wife nor slaveholder with respect to her, but the husband, who will never cause bitterness to arise in her heart by irritable harshness on his part. Indifference and neglect on the part of the husband, whether that be due to the cares and worries of his work or business or to the changing moods of the flesh, cannot be excused.

To the children the apostle says: Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord. The phrase "in all things" is synonymous with the "in the Lord" of the parallel passage, Eph_6:1. The statement is purposely general; for parents are the representatives of God over against their children, and their authority is that of the Lord. An unwilling, grumbling obedience on the part of the children is just as directly against the letter and spirit of this admonition as outright disobedience. The Lord wants willing hearts, a service on the part of the children which flows from faith and a grateful heart toward God, whose gifts the parents are.

But no less urgent is the apostle's admonition to the parents: Fathers, provoke not your children, lest they be disheartened. This requires a great deal of wisdom and patience. For if parents are over severe, unjust, capricious in the treatment of their children, if they irritate them by exacting, harsh commands and perpetual faultfinding, such a foolish exercise of parental authority may easily discourage the children, may break their spirit, may cause them to lose all affection and confidence, all pleasure and power for good and against evil.

The longest admonition of the series is addressed by Paul to the servants, in this case the slaves, probably on account of the incident in which Onesimus was involved. He writes: Servants, obey in all things those that are your masters according to the flesh, not in eye-service as men-pleasers, but in singleness of the heart, fearing the Lord. The statement "in all things" is naturally modified by the limitation set by God Himself, Act_5:29. Slaves are bound to yield obedience to their earthly lords; that is the will of God. Their work should not be done with acts of eye-service, namely, that they show all eagerness while the eye of the master rests upon them, and afterwards idle and loaf away the time. In that case they would be mere men-pleasers, they would consider the performance of their duty to consist only in gaining the approval of their masters. A Christian servant will remember that his first duty is toward the Lord, that he should strive to please Him, and that he should therefore perform his work in singleness of heart and purpose, not with the double-dealing which accompanies mere eye-service. A Christian servant is always conscious of the presence of God, for whom he has the highest feeling of respectful regard. His aim is, above all, to gain the approbation of his heavenly Father.

It follows, then: Whatever you do, do it from the heart as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. Although Christian servants are in the immediate service of men, as far as appearances go, they should know that in reality they are in the service of God. All their labor, therefore, must be done heartily and with a right good will. And all this should be their willing obedience all the more because they should know that the Lord would give them the reward, or recompense, of mercy. The Lord will look upon the faithful labor of every servant and every workman as a continuous good work for Christ's sake and will reward him accordingly. In the inheritance which is promised to them as the children of God the slaves would have the full recompense for all their hard labor in the service of their masters here on earth.

They must never forget, therefore: Serve the Lord Christ, for he that does wrong will bear what he has done wrong, and there is no respect of persons This is a warning from the Law: Every person reaps what he sows. For although the Christians, and also the Christian slaves, are no longer under the Law as believers, they are always in danger, on account of the weakness and perversity of their old flesh and evil nature, to yield to sin in some form. In that case they must remember that the evildoer must bear the curse and punishment of his evil. At the same time, the terrible part of the warning is contained in the fact that the wrong done here on earth and enduring for only a few moments will be punished with eternal destruction. Obedience and faithfulness is required of Christian servants, and those that deliberately transgress in this respect, probably with the plea that they have become partakers of the true Christian liberty, will find that God will not overlook misdeeds or idleness. It makes no difference to Him whether the sinner occupies a high social position in the world or is reckoned with the very lowliest of men; He judges the heart.

On the other hand, therefore, the masters should also heed the warning, Col_4:1. Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal, knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.

The treatment which any master accords to those under his authority, and especially to slaves, should be determined by justice and equity, not by caprice. Masters should regard their slaves, OR their side, as far as they are concerned, as human beings with themselves, like themselves. On the social, historical side there may be a wide difference in their stations, but by creation all men are equal before God, and that fact must never be forgotten. The almighty and just Lord in heaven will call every master to account for the treatment accorded those entrusted to his authority.

Summary

The apostle directs the thoughts of his readers heavenward, admonishes them to put off the old man, the sinful members on earth, and to put on the new man with all the Christian virtues, sustained by a rich use of the Word of God; he gives brief regulations to wives and husbands, to children and parents, to slaves and masters.