COLOSSIANS 2-2 (c) (2, 3) [4/12/20]

(c) Personal Commands for Holiness <3:18-4:6>

(2). Holiness in Work Life    <3:22—4:1>

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters” <3:22 (NIV)> Just as we are called upon to be obedient to our “Heavenly Master”, Paul urges us to be obedient to our “earthly masters”; and we should be obedient “in everything”. Here again, he is not suggesting that if we are called upon to break the law of God or country that we should do so when requested by our employer, rather, what he is suggesting is that we display the love that we have for God in our willingness to please the request of our employer. Furthermore, we should show our respect “not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” (NIV), understanding that a good employer allows us to carry out our duties, doing so with the ability and knowledge of our job, for we know that in the end we will have to account for our actions whether good or bad. So, our willingness to be obedient should be “a sincere expression of your devotion to God” (J.B. Phillips). The goal of all our obedience should be sincerity and reverence for The Lord, and “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” <3:23 (NIV)>, knowing that your real reward, “a heavenly one, will come from God” (J.B. Phillips), for in our obedience to our earthly masters we display our respect and reverence to God, “It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” <3:24 (NIV)>.

“Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.” <4:1 (NIV)>. Paul reminds all employers of their responsibilities – “be fair and just towards those whom you employ, never forgetting that you yourselves have a heavenly employer” (J.B. Phillips). So often employees decide to stand for their rights for unreasonable demands and lack of fair compensation from their employer, but believers in Christ should continue to serve God and understand that God will command everyone to give an account for our motivations and actions towards one another and to His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ <see Rom.14:10b-12; Matt12:36-37>, so, whether or not our earthly employer believes or does not believe, there will be a day of accountability.

(3). Holiness in Public Life   <4:2-6>

Here Paul describes what the Christian’s prayer life should be like; “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” <4:2 (NIV)> We need to dedicate ourselves to a life of prayer in which we do not “give up”, for our hope is in the Lord our God; we need to be faithful in prayer, praying at all times and in all circumstances Lk.18:1; Isa.40:31; Rom.1:10a; 12:12; Eph.6:18>. We should also remember to praise and thank God for ways in which He responds to our prayer. When this is our mind-set, God will open ways for us to share the gospel.

He also addresses the Christian behaviour in his statement “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders” <4:5 (NIV)>, meaning that we should “be wise in our behaviour toward non-Christians” (J.B. Phillips), especially in what we say to them in conversation. In his translation, J.B. Phillips expresses it “Speak pleasantly to them, but never sentimentally, and learn how to give a proper answer to every question.” <4:6>; and when we consider this, the only way that we can give a proper answer to their questions is for us to know what the Scriptures teach. Let us all consider that hurried formal devotions, thoughtless disregard for others and idle words, too often are characteristic of our lives; far removed from the ideal expressed in this segment; “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” <Eph.4:29 (NIV)>


COLOSSIANS 2-2 (c)(1) [4/3/20]


(c).  Personal Commands for Holiness <3:18—4:6>

             (1). Holiness in Family Life  <3:18-21>

Holiness, sanctity, or godliness is necessary in the families of all believers in Christ since we are to allow the teachings of Christ to guide us in every aspect of our lives; so here Paul addresses each member of the family.

“Wives, submit” <3:18 (NIV)>. What does he mean by “submit”? A check of the word in the Webster’s Dictionary gives the following meanings: to give over or yield; to subject to; to defer to; and if these are applied directly to the context of what Paul is teaching here it may give an incorrect concept. In his letter to the Ephesian Church he uses the same word in relation to how believers are to conduct themselves: “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” <Eph.5:21 (NIV)>, and we should notice here that submission should be due to our respect for Christ in the sense of what He has done for us individually. We respect Him because of His great mercy that He has shown to us in forgiving and accepting us in kind-heartedness considering what we were, and this should be the attitude that we show to each other as we read earlier <see Col.3:14, 16-17>. Paul also indicates that this is a direct result of The Holy Spirit working in and through us <Eph.5:18b>. Paul also teaches the reason for submission: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church” <Eph.5:22 (NIV)>; so here we see that submission is more of a peace-making attitude that should be seen in “wives“, as they recognize the spiritual position of their husband in the home – “head of his wife as Christ is head of the Church”, and the truth that Christ was in submission to His Father <see Heb.5:7-8>. It should also be observed and understood that the Scriptures use the word submit and not obey in respect to wives; also that Christ is not  to be replaced by the husband but the wife should submit as an act of submission to Christ <Eph.5:24>.

“Husbands, love your wives” <3:19 (NIV)>; again Paul expands on this statement in his letter to the Ephesian Church: “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” <Eph.5:25 (NIV)>; a higher expression of devotion than what the wife is called to do – “give himself up”, the example is what Christ has done for The Church. Husbands are further encouraged to “love their wives as their own bodies” <Eph.5:28 (NIV)> for he says that no one ever hated his own body but feeds and cares for it as Christ has done for the Church.

“Children, obey your parents in everything” <3:30 (NIV)>; he expresses it to the Ephesians “obey your parents in the Lord” <Eph.6:1 (NIV); cf Acts 5:29> which suggests that such obedience should be in accordance with what is taught by Scripture. Respect of parents is taught by Scripture and was the first command with a promise “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” <Eph.6:3; cf Deut.5:16>.

“Fathers, do not embitter your children” <3:21 (NIV); Eph.6:4>; Fathers are not to corrupt or frustrate their children in forcing them to be obedient in sinful actions in consideration that the command is that they should obey their parents; “instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” <Eph.6:4 (NIV); cf Deut.6:5-9>; the duty of every believing parent is to offer continual Scriptural instruction and example to their children, for it is in the home that they will see the influence of Scripture; but when there are conflicting or questionable instructions the children become cynical about our Christianity. The responsibility of parental instruction should not be left entirely to the Church leaders.

Unfortunately, hurried devotions, thoughtless disregard for others, and idle and unkind words often characterize our lives. So godliness begins with the family, and when each family abides by Paul’s, and Scriptural teaching, the Church as a whole becomes a godly institution and spreads the gospel by example.