Saturday, January 14, 2017

THOUGHTS ON ROMANS1:5






Paul the receiver of grace and apostleship (1:5). Paul brings out a number of issues in this text.

  • The phrase “Though whom” connects verse 4 and 5.  Clearly Paul is a receiver by the means of Jesus Christ. It reveals the continued activity of Christ and indicates that God is the source (cf. 1 Cor. 1:9; Gal. 1:1). Some downgrade this phrase, saying it is “scarcely necessary.”[1]Though whom” or “by whom (KJV) is the preposition genitive, dia, signifying immediate agency or instrumentality. Wallace identifies it as a genitive of production which produces the nouns (grace and apostleship).[2]
  • The main verb is the word “received,” which means to take in hand, thus, to receive. It applies directly to Paul. It is used with we, an epistolary plural. As such, it refers to Paul alone. In the English, it is the same as the editorial we. It speaks of Paul, who alone is the apostle to the gentiles (cf. 1:8-16; 11:13)
  • What he received is identified by the two main nouns: They specify the awareness that his ministry is unique to the Gentiles (cf. 1:8-16). He states clearly in verse 5 that his ministry is for all the Gentiles. The nouns of grace and apostleship entail his mission and area of responsibility. There is some debate on the understanding of these two nouns. Either way is permitted.[3] Some understand these as two distinct things: grace and apostleship. Others take it as a hendiadys denoting grace-apostleship. If this is correct, it certainly signifies that the apostleship was a gift of grace. However, Haldane is probably correct that both terms are to be distinguished.[4] God saves us by grace; He gives us gracious gifts to be used in His service.
  • The purpose of grace and apostleship given to Paul is “to bring about [the] obedience of faith” (1:5). This phrase is used both at the beginning of the epistle and at the end (16:26). It has particular reference to the ministry of Paul and his gospel or apostleship (15:18). Paul received grace and the gracious gift of apostleship for the purpose of obedience of faith. The phrase itself has given way to a number of interpretations, which Longenecker contributes to the uncertainty of the meaning of the genitive (of faith). He identifies 5 ways in which it could be taken, but he takes it as a genitive of source.[5] Thus, obedience that comes from faith. However, Moo makes these two statements the same: “This obedience to Christ as Lord is always closely related to faith, both as an initial, decisive step of faith and as a continuing faith relationship with Christ. In light of this, we understand the words obedience and faith to be mutually interpreting; obedience always involves faith, and faith always involves obedience.[6] Godet in his commentary says, “The only possible meaning is: the obedience which consists in faith itself.[7]
  • The object of this mission to bring obedience of faith “among all the Gentiles” (5:5). It speaks of the unique ministry of Christ through Paul. His apostleship was a gentile apostleship (Rom. 11:13; Eph. 3:1-10). Only Paul has such an apostleship…it was unique, directed, and focused upon the Gentiles.





[1]  C.E.B. Cranfield, ICC: ROMANS, [Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1975], 1:66
[2]  Daniel B Wallace, GREEK GRAMMAR: BEYOND THE BASICS, [Grand Rapids MI, Zondervan, 1996], 105-106.
[3]  C.E.B. Cronfield, ICC; ROMANS, 1:66;
[4]  Robert Haldane, AN EXPOSITION OF ROMANS, [Grand Rapids MI, MacDonald, reprint, n.d.], 30.
[5]  Richard N. Longenecker, NIGTC: ROMANS, 79-80,
[6]  Douglas J. Moo, NICNT: ROMANS, 54.
[7]  F. Godet, COMMENTARY ON THE EPTISLE TO THE ROMANS, [Grand Rapids MI, Zondervan, reprint1956], 82.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Book Review: Preaching OT Narratives


Preaching Old Testament Narratives

Benjamin H. Walton [Grand Rapids MI, Kregel, 2016]



You hear very few sermons on the Old Testament anymore. Here is a book that will help a Pastor to feel more confident in doing so.

Walton begins where preaching should begin with hermeneutics. This is fundamental to preaching, specially to preach with authority. He is correct that preaching with authority is to preach the Word. However, he seems to overlook the job of the Holy Spirit and what used to be called the unction of the Spirit in preaching. He emphasizes genre as an essential unit the Old Testament text and must be preached in that light. He is correct in indicating Old Testament text differs from the New Testament epistles, not being as direct or as understandable. Be careful. Walton, uses his own jargon in this book (example: “CUT,” meaning complete unit of. “THT” take home truth, “OTM;” original Theological message, among others). These are generally useful.  He uses this jargon in giving an overview of the steps of his hermeneutical process.



The second part of the book is on delivering the message. He starts this with the four pillars of excellent preaching—Accuracy, relevance, clarity, and inspiring. He briefly writes on the common ways of preaching text (verse by verse, alliteration, principlization, etc., but does not appear to be a fan of any of these). He rather gives his own method, explaining it section by section, which takes up most of the book. This is the heart of the book, where he gives the nitty-gritty of putting together the sermon. In a nutshell, his method involves:

·         Create an Introduction (Chapter 5). Included in this is what I call the basic ingredients of an introduction that he brings out—identification, relevance, and setting the stage. Somewhat simple, but necessary ingredients.

·         Preach through the CUT (compete units of thought) movement (Part 1: Chapter 6). He says these movements are effective and illuminate the text. He warns not to make these main points; they are only to keep the sermon on focus. Make the connections to real life.

·         Preach through the CUT (Part 2: Chapter 7). This is a continuation of chapter 6. He says the CUT movements can simply be summarized, read and explaine, or used as lead-ins. Movements are not the same as main ideas.

·         State the Take-Home truth (Chapter 8). What he refers to Take-Home truth, I would classify as application. He defines it as a timeless or contemporary expression of the OTM (the original Theological Message).

·         Help listeners “buy” the Take-Home truth (Chapter 9). This is to overcome objections listeners may have with the Take-Home truth. This is a helpful chapter.

·         Develop Picture-Painting Applications (Chapter 10). He states preaching is about life. Painting life pictures from the sermon gives it added meaning.

·         Move to Christ (Chapter 11). He deals with the meaning of preaching Christ in the Old Testament narrative that the sermon must reflect New Covenant reality about by Christ (a definition not all will agree with).

·         Finishing well in the conclusion (Chapter 12).

·         From good to excellent (Chapter 13). He gives us elements both outside the pulpit and inside to makes us better.

 In an appendix, he gives some example sermons.



My overall evaluation is that this will be helpful in preaching the Old Testament. Preaching from the Old Testament is a common struggle among preachers, in which this can help. He gives good detail of this method of preaching, which some would equally apply to other types of sermons. However, everyone will not agree with the overall method which is presented in a rigid manner. At times, he seems too narrow. However, these will be overlooked by most experienced preachers. This is a good solid work that will be a benefit to preachers on Old Testament narratives.



Thanks to Kregel for the free provision of work for my review.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

FORTHCOMING: NEW BOOK


THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
James R Gray
[from forthcoming book]

The sermon is aimed at those who will enter the earthly kingdom of the Messiah. This is evident by two truths: First, those in the already in earthly kingdom cannot have the promise made that they will inherit the earth. They have inherited the earth once the kingdom begins. Second, the character of the age is the same as this present evil age. Evil is dominant (5:6); corruption is widespread (5:13); moral darkness, for they need the light (5:14); ambition, jealousy and pride rule; and the Devil is free (6:13).  As McClain notes, “The age of which the Lord spoke, and the age of His Millennial Reign, could not be set in sharper contrast.[1] Thus, the primary audience is those who will enter the earthly kingdom, especially those who will go into and through the Tribulation period. This fits the theological pattern of Matthew, which deals with the King and the kingdom. The kingdom is at hand (Matthew 4:23), but not yet arrived.

However, there is real application of us today. Four principles make this clear:

  • The teaching of discipleship cannot be restricted to the Tribulation or the kingdom. A disciple is a believer and learner of Christ. That includes every believer since the giving of the sermon.
  • The sermon has to do with the character of believers. He is speaking of the character they are to have. Paul likens it to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1). The characters of believers are inter-dispensational in principle. 
  • The teaching of Paul sustains the applying Jesus’ teaching on discipleship to this dispensation. Paul does not teach a different or reduced code of behavior. In fact, we find in Paul’s epistles corresponding teaching to the sermon. For example, Paul says we are to shine as lights, just as Jesus told his disciples they were lights (Matthew 5:15 cf. Ephesians 5:8). Believers in all dispensations were to be the lights to the world.
The teaching of Jesus on character and discipleship apply to us because the sermon gives principles and characteristics that are inter-dispensational.


[1]  Alva J. McClain, DANIEL’S PROPHECY OF THE SEVENTY WEEEKS, (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1959), 9.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Chart of Galatians


The book of Galatians is a defense of the truth of justification by faith, which is the heart of the gospel of grace. It presents a defense of Paul, his message, and the believer’s liberty in grace. It deals with two main problems: (1) The so-called lack of the authority of Paul. (2) Circumcision, representing legalism and the Law.

The structure of the book is somewhat simple. It could be outlined as such:


Salutation 1:1-10
Defense of Paul’s Authorship 1:11-2:21
Defense of the Message of Grace 3:1-4:41
Defense of Our Liberty in Grace 5:1-6:10
Conclusion 6:11-18


Independent Revelation 1:11-12
Gospel of Grace Vindicated 3:1-29
Liberty apart from the Law 5:1-12


Independent Apostleship 1:13-2:21
Gospel of Grace Illustrated 4:1-20
Warning: Liberty is not License 5:13-25




Liberty is Life in the Spirit 5:16-26




Liberty to Service 6:1-10

Monday, December 26, 2016

Studies in Colossians #34







Servants and Masters 3:22-4:1

                              

This speaks of household servants. Slavery has in the last 150 years all but vanished in western society. However, this is timely, especially in the light of boss and employee relationships and responsivity. Modern readers need to keep that in mind when reading this verse.



As we read this verse we cannot help but see the parallel with verse 21. Children are to “obey” / “in everything” just as are the servants. In each case the same Greek words are used (hypakouo / kata panta). The word obey is a present middle imperative, indicating continual obedience, and is the action of the servant (as well as children). This obedience is to encompass all things. The section makes up Colossians 3:22-4:1, and the majority of instructions are directed toward the servant. The masters are addressed only in 4:1.



Moo brings out that while this may seem to uphold the status quo, it delicately challenges it in the following ways:[1]

  • It is significant that they are addressed, implying they are not only a part of the assembly, but they need to choose the kind of behavior spoken of.
  • It relativizes the status by reminding both slave and master that both are responsible to obey the Lord.
  • Paul never endorses slavery as an institution, only how one should conduct themself when they are in the institution.
  • Paul instructs that Onesimus is to be received as no longer a slave, but a brother (Phlm 16). Pao observes, “the status of this slave is consistent with the trajectory one finds throughout Colossians.”[2] 



Whom servants are to obey is their masters on earth. The KJV has the longer translation of “according to the flesh (more literal).” How they are to serve is given in a negative and positive manner.

  • Negative— “not with external service, as those who [merely] please men…” (3:22 cf. Eph. 6:6).  This speaks to the manner in which they serve. The phrase speaks of earthy service only to curry favor with them while they are watching. But with no loyalty or respect toward the master. This is clear from the negative phrases. It is not to be external service (ophthamodoulia). The Greek literally means eye-service, service given under a watchful eye. Harris points to three characteristics of the word:[3] (1) it is concerned with what can be observed; (2) service only when watched; (3) Service performed only to impress the master. The word is unique to Paul. We have all seen and worked with these types of people who look busy only while the boss is watching. They serve only for their advantage. They do only the minil; there in no heart or respect in their service. What effort they put in is simple to please the boss.  
  • Positive— “but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord” (3;22). This is a phrase of contrast, as seen by the word but. In contrast to insincerity of heart or singleness of heart (KJV). The word translated sincerity is a cognate adjective indicating singleness of purpose of mind (cf. Matt. 6:22). A purpose that is sincere, pure in motives, and exercised conscientiously. The reason of our sincerity is the fear of the Lord, i.e. Christ. Fear here speaks more of reverence or in awe of Christ. It speaks of the true manner of service. In using the last part of the phrase Paul seems to be doing two things: (1) giving the basis of our service and (2) providing a transition to our motivation of service.



The transition denotes an exhortation: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (3:23). This is an exhortation that explains our service in threefold way :

  • Ordinary service (Whatever you do). This does not signify special service, but the daily routine; working in the ordinary; the mundane; and the normal task. All work is service to the Lord. We are called to serve in the ordinary. Some limit the service as only that which meets the Christian standard. That is hardly the case for two reasons (1) The word whatever applies to everything we do. It places no limits on what we do. (2) The results may include punishment (3:25). This clearly indicates that some service is not up to par. It falls short, and we will be held accountable for it.

  • Energetic service (do yours work heartily). The word work means to energize or produce, in thee present tense, indicating a constant energy. This energy is to come from the heart or soul. It indicates our work is to be done out of the depth of our heart or soul (cf. Deut 6:5; Matt 22:37). It can indicate the motivation of our service, but more than likely it refers to the totality of commitment.[4]
  •  Direct service (as for the Lord rather than for men). Our true master is the Lord. Our service is for Him, not simply men. It has been noted that the exhortation in designed to prevent any possibility of a mechanical perfunctory obedience.[5] The phrase shifts the believer’s focus from an earthly master to the heavenly one. Paul redefines master as the true Lord—Jesus Christ! That is who we serve, rather than man.



The basis or reason for such service is clear, its origin is our knowledge (3:24), The word knowing has the idea of sense you know. The word that is the Greek word speaks of a specific and knowable knowledge.[6] In this case there is a twofold exhortation:

  • Reward— “from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance” (3:24). This is the first aspect of our knowledge. It should be pointed out that this is eschatological knowledge, which is affected by the present life. One will received from the Lord a reward—for they serve the Lord. The word receive has the meaning of receive what is due, or to receive in full. That which is receive is “the inheritance.” Johnson points out two thoughts that are bound up in the word:
    • “In the first place, the word implies that the reward of grace. The verb may be rendered received as your due. If the is the thought of the word, the reward is considered to be debit in the sense that God has promised it.
    • In the second place, there is a paradox involved in the word. A slave in pictured as receiving the reward of an inheritance! The slave is not an heir!”[7]



It needs to be pointed out that all believers will receive an inheritance based on God’s grace, not our works (cf. Rom. 5:2, 9; 8:1, 31-39; Thess. 1:10; 4:13-17, 1 Pet. 1:9). However, it appears that the faithful will receive even more of an inheritance (cf. John 12:26; 1 Cor. 3:8, 14; 3:14-15; 9:16-18; Gal, 5:21; Eph. 5:5).

The exhortation reiterates the fact that our service is to the Lord. It reinforces the key concept that our true object of our service is to the Lord (3:22-24),

  • Retribution— “For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality” (3:25). The Greek phrase who does wrong speaks of one who continually does wrong. It is a habitual act. It is primarily talking to slaves and against injustice and wrong they do against their master. However, it also goes beyond the physical to the spiritual and eternal. This is clearly seen in the phrase “without partiality.” It implies the heavenly master—the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Eph. 6:9; Rom. 2:1; Acts 10:44).  This does not speak of the loss of salvation, but a loss of rewards before the judgment seat of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 3:11-15).



Here is the instruction to the earthly masters— “Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master  heaven” (4:1). Up to this point the main focus has been on the slaves. Note the double use of the word knowing (3:24; 4:1). The slaves are to know that they serve more than just the earthly master; the masters know they serve the same Master in heaven. This knowledge should affect their ethical behavior as to how they are to treat their slave. “Give” it the compound word papa and exw; meaning to hold out, to confer, render, or provide, Dunn notes that it is in the middle form which means to grant.[8] Paul gives a command earthly masters are to grant two things to their service.

  • Justice. The word for justice is the Greek word dikaios meaning right, just, or equitable. It speaks of the treatment they are to give to their slaves and corresponds to the righteousness of God.
  • Fairness. O’Brien observes the “second term reinforces the first denoting the spirit of equity as distinct from the letter of obligation.”[9] It speaks of how to lay out justice on an equal basis.

Masters are to treat their slaves on a just and fair basis.



The reason is clearly defined: “knowing that you too have a Master in heaven” (4:1). This puts masters and slaves on the same level. Each answer to a higher authority. Both are subject to the higher Master (Eph. 5:24). Yet, believers are to be subject to their earthly status before God. By being obedient to their earthly masters, they are obedient to the heavenly Master.  





[1]  Moo, PNTC: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 308.
[2]  Pao, ZECNT: COLOSSIANS & PHILEMON, 284.
[3] Harris, EGGNT: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 157.
[4] Pao, ZECNT: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 273.
[5]  S Lewis Johnson Jr, “New Man in the Old Relationship,” BIBIOTHECA SACRA, April 1964, 114.
[6] According to Harris, EGGNT: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 159; The Greek word opi speaks of a well-known fact that indicates basis of exhortation.
[7] Lewis Johnson Jr. “The Man in the Old Relationships, BIB-SAC, 114.
[8]  Dunn, NIGTC: COLOSSAND AND PHILEMON, 259,
[9]  O’Brien, WBC: COLOSSIANS, PHILEMON, 232.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Studies in Colossians #33

Children and Parents (Col. 3:20-21)




Paul now turns to the child-parent relationship (3:18-19). This, like the instruction to the wife and husband, falls into two main imperatives—one for the children, the other is directed toward the father as head of the household.



To the children, “be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord” (3:20). There are a number of observations that can be made of this imperative:

First, the word children is the Greek words ta tekna, which indicates a child which is still a dependent. Under Roman law, they were legal property.



Second, the word obey is upakouete, a compound word meaning to hear under, which denotes submissiveness and obedience to the head. Ephesians 6:1 gives the same instruction. Children are to listen and obey their parents. Paul quotes the commandment of the Law in light of this injunction— “Honor your father and mother” (Eph. 6:2). This injunction is a quote from the Law. Thieleman points out that there are three reason why children are to obey:[1] (1) It is conduct expected in a Christian family. (2) It is “right” or proper and fair. (3) The Scriptures command it, and the children who obey will live long successful lives (cf. Exodus 20:12).

Third, this obedience is to be all encompassing— “in everything.”

Fourth, the basis for this obedience is that it is well-pleasing to the Lord. The idea of well-pleasing is acceptability. Paul uses the concept in Rom. 12:1; 14:18; Phil. 4:18. These verses bring out four elements that are well-pleasing to God: obedience, sacrificial living, service, and giving. The phrase to the Lord, justifies Paul’s call to the children for obedience. An act beyond the obedience to their parents, to the Lord Himself. 

To the Fathers: “do not exasperate [ provoke—KJV] your children, so that they will not lose heart” (3:21 cf. Eph. 6:4). This is a special instruction to fathers in accordance with the norm of Roman society. The Roman patria potetas (household authority) “gave the father unlimited power over his children and the law exercised a considerable degree of influence in Hellenistic culture.[2] The word exasperate is the Greek word erethizo, meaning to provoke; to stir up; or excite. Here it is used in the evil sense.[3]  It is to lose your cool or patience with the child. In his blog, Paul Tautges listed 25 things to provoke your child:

Lack of marital harmony;

Establishing and maintaining a child-centered home;

Modeling sinful anger;

Habitually disciplining in anger;

Scolding; Being inconsistent with discipline;

Having double standards;

Being legalistic;

Not admitting you’re wrong and not asking for forgiveness;

Constantly finding fault;

Parents reversing God-given roles;

Not listening to your child’s opinion or taking his or her ‘side of the story’ seriously;

Comparing them to others;

Not making time ‘just to talk’;

Not praising or encouraging your child;

Failing to keep your promises;

Chastening in front of others;

Not allowing enough freedom;

Allowing too much freedom;

Mocking your child;

Abusing them physically;

Ridiculing or name calling;

Unrealistic expectations;

Practicing favoritism; and Child training with worldly methodologies inconsistent with God’s Word. 4]

To this I would add not to be unkind, nor overprotect them.

We must be warned not to go to the extreme in discipline, which can be an act of physical or psychological abuse. It is an act of sin and an exercise of carnality (1 Cor. 3:3; Gal. 5:20). This goes against the admonition of Colossians 3:12-13. It breeds bitterness and resentfulness in the child. It kills the child’s self-esteem. Our focus of being a father is to love our child and to aid in reassuring and building up their character. C is to be used, but it is not to be overbearing.

A father’s responsibility is to act in such a way that the result will be that they do not lose heart. The KJV uses the word discouraged. The Greek word is athumeo (used only here in the NT) a compound word of not and spirit or courage, denoting feelings. It is a purpose clause. This type of clause is often used of a situation that is to be avoided (cf. Matt. 7:1; 17:27; Rom. 11:25; 15:20; 1 Cor. 4:6; 8:13; Eph. 2:9).[5] Our purpose is to prevent the child from losing heart or courage. We are to build them up, and not to destroy them.





[1] Frank Thielman, BECNT: EPHESIANS, [Grand Rapids MI, Baker, 2010], 395.
[2]  O’Brien, WBC: COLOSSIANS, PHILEMON, 225.
[3]  Vine, EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY, 3:228.
[4] Paul Tautges, 25 Ways to Provoke Our Children to Anger, counselingoneanother.com /2011/07/21/.
[5] Pao, ZECNT: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 271.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Review: Syntax Guide by Irons


A SYNTAX GUIDE FOR READERS OF THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT by Charles Lee Irons [Grand Rapids MI, Kregel Academic, 2016] 629 pages.



This is a syntax guide, not one consisting of a manuscript variants. It does not deal with variants, although a few significant ones are pointed out. He generally accepts the critical text—the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece—as written.  Facts about this guide:

1.       Its purpose is to providing brief explanations and syntactical and translation features of the text.

2.       The notes are brief and concise and in some cases limited.

3.       It is not written to compete with or replace larger works on the subject.

4.       It is designed to encourage the reading of the Greek text.

5.       The translation is from taken from the modern translations, not the King James Version. A weakness I believe.

6.       It endeavors to show various ways the Greek text, especially particles and preposition can be taken.

7.       He admits that he uses at times his own terms for the usual ones (p. 10).

8.       A helpful index is included at the end, to show where certain parts of speech are used in the text (i.e. accusative, etc).

9.       He refers to additional resources in some text.



In using it with the Greek text, first I must acknowledge that the critical text is not my first choice of the Greek texts (although I used it at times). In going though John here are some personal observations:

·         It generally was helpful as a guide. But is more of a quick reference.

·         It was too concise at times with no resources given for those who want more explanation of the options (cf. Jn 1:3). Although He does give options without comment. Which is normally the case.

·         Those verses in which additional information is pointed to are older works, omitting the newer ones [i.e. Mounce].

·         However, it does touch on the key issue of syntax with various degrees of help.  



Much of what I found is already available in other works and/or a good lexicon. While this work may be helpful to the beginning Greek student, it fails to be ready helpful or meet the needs of the more advance student or Pastor. At times, it is difficult to understand. If you have Wallace, Mounce, or even good exegetical commentaries, I would past on this volume. In my opinion it is not needed, nor does it fully meet it purpose.



I was given a review copy by the publisher Kregel Academic in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Studies in Colossians #32




Practicing Christian Living at Home 3:18-4:1

During the time of Paul, a typical household consisted of relationships between husband and wife; parents and children; and family and slaves (servants). The section explodes suddenly into the context of the epistle without the marks of a transition from what went before in the text. It marks a switch from that spiritual family to the physical one.[1] It has been inferred that this has been borrowed from outside sources and Christianized.[2] It seems that most hold that the background is the Roman household code.[3] This may be, but so what? There are common areas of ethics in the world. However, there seems to be no clear consensus as to the background of the injunctions. They are not Christianization of worldly ethics, if anything they are an overlapping of ethics.

This section of responsibility. Gromacki points this out clearly:
Corporate oneness (ein) position does not abrogate individual responsibility and function. Racial, social, and sexual distinctions remain, even though there is equality in Christ.[4]
Responsibility begins at home. The home is the oldest institution on earth. It was established in the garden before the fall with Adam and Eve.

This section consists of three subsections centered around members of the household: (1) Wives and husbands, (2) children and fathers, and (3) slaves and masters. A number of things can be observed:
  • Each section deals with a member of a household.
  • In each case Paul deals with the secondary member first and then the one in authority.
  • This Colossians 3:18-4:1 is one self-contained unit with three pairs of reciprocal exhortations.[5]
  • It is a series of admonitions addressed to six members of the household.
  • They deal with mutual or reciprocal obligations,[6] and are not one- sided.
  • Ephesians 5:22-6:9 is an parallel to these admonitions.

Wives and husbands 3:18-19

This subsection is made of two commands—one to wives, the other to the husbands.
  • To the wives: “be subject to your husbands as is fitting the Lord” (3:18). The word subject is a compound word mean to arrange under. It carries the idea of submission or subordinate, but not subjection. This has nothing to do with women being inferior to man. It is in the middle voice, indicating a voluntary act by the wives. As an imperative it could be translation “freely submit yourselves.” It is a military word where the soldiers are under order or directions of an officer.[7] To Paul, submission between husband and wife is a two-way street. The great example is in sexual relations where one is not to forbid the other, rather is to grow out of mutual consent (1 Cor. 7:3-6). Dunn makes an important observation “that wives and not women generally who are in view” in contrast to 1 Cor. 14:34.[8] However, Scripture does not warrant that women are to be subject to all men. This passage qualifies the submission in two ways:
First, it is restrictive in that it is dealing exclusively with the husband-wife relationship.
Second, although authority is the underlining principle, it is not an overbearing authority over the wife. It is a voluntary acceptance of authority on the part of the wife, not an enforced one by the husband. There is no evidence that submission to Christ is a forced submission.
The means or basis of the exercise of submission by the wife is not controlled by the husband, but the Lord. It is governed by “as is fitting in the Lord” (3:18). We should note the following observations:
First, it notes the object of appropriate submission is the Lord. The word fit or fitting is a compound word in the Greek (aneko) made up of the words up and come, therefore to come up to, that which is becoming, or what is proper. It speaks of a standard, in this case the standard behavior of the wife.
Second, it marks the manner of submission to the husband and the will of God.  Campbell clearly notes:

It is of course understood that believing wives are to arrange themselves under their husbands not to do that which is contrary to the will of God (cf. Acts 4:9).[9]

The submission to the standard of Christ outweighs the wrongful authority or commands of the husband.
Third, it speaks of the idea of duty.
 Fourth, it disarms the idea to behave in accordance with the common social order, but goes beyond that to the higher order of the Lord.

  • To the husband: “love your wives and do not be embittered against them” (3:19). This injunction is not in contrast to the above injunction, but given a counterpart with it. The implication is that submission is gained by love. There is a natural connection between the two. This injunction to the husband is twofold—positive and negative.
First, the positive: “love your wives.” The word for love is the Greek word agapao, the highest form for love. Campbell gives us five ways in which the word is used in the New Testament:[10]
1.       There is a direct correlation between love and the willingness to forgive (cf. Luke 7:47).
2.       Love causes one to give of himself for the others, even to the point of death. It is a sacrificing love (cf. John 3:16), We could call it a Calvary love.
3.       Love is not transient but permanent (cf. John 131).
4.       Love shows itself in grace and mercy (Eph. 2:4).
5.       Love disciplines and trains a person to be more like the Lord (Heb. 2:6).
He goes on to note:
As we apply these meanings to the husband’s relation to his wife we have something that is very tangible.  Husbands who love their wives will always be ready to forgive them, to give themselves for them, to be steady and unchangeable in their love, to show mercy toward them, and to help train them to be more like the Lord.[11]
Love is to be continuous and enduring in all circumstances. It is to be eternal in quality. It forgives, cleanses, and sanctifies. It is the love of Christ for His Church (Eph. 5:26-27).
Second, “do not be embittered against them (3:19). The word embittered means sour, bitter, or harsh. It is a word which reflects a sinful inclination (cf. Acts 8:23). The conjunction “and” which connects the two injunctions, is an exegetical conjunction, giving a meaningful example of what love entails. Paul instructs us “to put away” all bitterness (Eph. 4:31). Notice in the context this is put away by forgiveness (Eph. 4:32). Paul is arguing that bitterness is overcome by love and the power of the Holy Spirit, which is displayed by forgiveness. The practice of which is to begin with our relationship with our wives. There is no room for harshness in our relationship with our wife, others, and the church.

To be continued…


[1]  Moo, PNTC; COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 293,
[2] E. Glenn Hinson, “The Christian Household in Colossians 3:18-4:1,” REVIEW AND EXPOSITORY, Electronic media, date unknown.  
[3] Dunn, NIGTC: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 244; THEOLOGY OF PAUL, [Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans, 1998], 666-667; Moo, PNTC: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 294-296; Harold W. Hoehner, EPHESIANS: AN EXEGETICAL COMMENTART, [Grand Rapids MI, Baker, 2002], 720-729,
[4] Gromacki, STAND PERFECT, 146.
[5]  O’Brien, WBC: COLOSSIANS, PHILEMON, 219.
[6] Barclay, DSB: COLOSSIANS, 192.
[7]  Gromacki, STAND PERFECT, 147.
[8]  Dunn, NIGTC: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 247.
[9] Campbell, COLOSSIANS & PHILEMON, 159.
[10]  Ibid, 160.
[11]  Ibid, 160,