OUR CHRISTIAN APPAREL (3:5-11) continued
The third imperative: “do not lie.” (3:9-11).
The third imperative ends a section and begins one as well. It is transitional in nature. Do not lie is the clear command. Paul takes this third imperative to end on a positive note. The imperatives are incentives to lay aside the old, and to “put on the new self” (3:20). Both putting off and putting on are aorist participles, indicating completed actions in the past. Gromacki reminds us that we “did not put the new over the old. A believer has only one position before God, although he as two natures: the old sin nature and the new nature centered in the indwelling life of God. The new position guarantees heaven, and submission to the new nature brings spiritual victory (Gal. 5:16).” Paul uses the term new in three senses:
- Of being new creations in Christ (Gal. 6:15). Positionally the old man is crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6). We have a new position in Christ.
- In reference to the church, the body of Christ as the new man or mankind (Ephesians 2:15-16). It speaks of the joint-body of Jew and Gentile as one in Christ. It is in contrast to the old where Israel had the priority.
- As a new nature in contrast with the old, as in this present passage. The believer has two natures, otherwise the injunction to take off the old would be irrelevant (Eph. 4:22; 25; Rom 13:12). Moo calls the old and new “competing schemes of the Christian life.” This last point speaks of our sanctification. Between the two (old and new) there is an already—not yet tension. The new man is not simply new in time (neon), but is to be new (kainon) in quality or character.
How do we put off the old and put on the new? It is by the renewal of the mind and having the mind of Christ (cf. Rom. 12:1-2; Phil 2:5). This is indicated by the phrase, “being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (3:10). The phrase modifies the new man. The Greek text could be translated “the one which is being renewed.” The structure can be diagramed as:
Put on the new man
| which is being renewed
| to true knowledge
| according to the image of the One
It is clear that what is being renewed is the new man. The word renewed modifies the new which indicate continual by daily involvement of believers (cf. 2 Cor. 4:12). The new man is aorist indicating the past which is being renewed, a present tense. Dunn observes that the aorist speaks of “the conversion-initiation past is qualified by an ongoing present: the new self is in process of being renewed.” It denotes a tension between God’s work and man’s responsibility. It speaks of transformation through the work of Christ. The renewal is often spoken of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Titus 3:5, cf. Eph. 3:16). This process of renewal speaks of the mind as indicated by the reference to knowledge (Rom 12;1-2). The Greek proposition is eis, denoting motion unto an object, to the extent of, or with respect to an object. Harris lists possible understandings here:
(1) Expressing direction toward
(2) Equivalent to a locative, in knowledge
(3) Telic, for full knowledge
(4) Consecutive, leading to
(5) Temporal, until it obtains or reaches it goal.
While I think #1 is the best, it matters little because all of these have in common the idea of motion toward a goal. The idea of motion is vital to the understanding of being renewed to knowledge. The word renewed has the force in this context is that of becoming (as in 2 Cor. 4:16). Our new position in Christ is to separate us from the practices of our old way of life. This is the heart of progressive sanctification. It is becoming more like the image that God created us to be (cf. Gen. 1:26-28). It speaks of the transforming power of God into Christ-likeness (Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 3:18; 4:16; Titus 3:5).
We are becoming more knowledgeable. The word knowledge indicates a personal and experiential knowledge. It is not to know about a person, but knowledge that come from a relationship. The knowledge also suggests the importance of the mind in the Christian life.
This knowledge is of what or whom? It is of Christ. This is reinforced by the phrase: “according to the image of the One who created him” (3:10). It is the taking on of Christ that is important. This is a reference to Christ, the image of God (cf. 1:15, Eph. 4:24). We are being made into His image, both individually (Rom 8:29) and together as a body (Eph 4:7-16). Johnson observes that this gives a summary of the teaching of Paul in this epistle. He writes:
There are three realms, relevant to the Colossians, in which He is all. He is everything in salvation, there is no place for angelic mediation in God’s redemptive work (cf. 1:18-22; 2:18). He is everything in sanctification; hence legality and asceticism are out of place in the Christian life (cf. 2:16-23). He is our life (3:3-4). Finally, He is everything necessary for human satisfaction, here there is no need for philosophy, or the deeds of the old man (1:26-28; 2:3, 9-10).
The new man is one of a new environment without distinctions: “[a renewal] in which there is no [distinction between] Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythians, slave and freeman, but Christ is all and all” (3:11). The NASB adds the words that are in brackets; the KJV omits them as they should be. They really do not clarify the text and are unsupported by the Greek text. The Greek Majority text reads: “in which there is no Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarians, Scythian, slave, free person, but Christ is all things and in all things” (Author’s translation). As the image of Christ there are no distinctions either religious, social, national, economical, or racial. Notice that these distinctions run in contrasting terms:
Eadie points to two connotations of these distinctions:
- Such distinctions do not avert the putting-on the new man.
- Having had the old does not alter the possession of the privilege and blessing found in the new man.
These contrast are consistent with Paul’s theology of universal inclusiveness. Some identify the new man with the church, the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-23). Others take is more broadly as simply positional—being in Christ (Gal. 3:27-29). However, the context suggests some kind of corporate unit or unity. This is supported by Paul in his sister epistle—Eph 2:15. He is speaking of a new humanity. O’Brien notes: “The renewal refers not simply to an individual change of character but also to a corporate re-creation of humanity in the Creator’s image.” Therefore, the new man is seen both in ethical and ecclesiastical terms.
The climax of the new man is that “Christ is all, and in all.” (3:11). There is significance to the double reference to all. There are two distinct ideas of the word all as seen by the word and (kai). It is therefore a mistake to translate this phrase as “Christ is all in all,” as some do. It seems to me that the first “all” speaks of the goal of the new man (relating back to 1:18), and the last all speaks of Christ as “in all” of the new man. The new man is the object of the redemptive and sanctifying work of Christ. He is working in us and Christ is all to us. To the believer Christ matters; He indwells all in His body. “The Christ who lives in each of his people is the Christ who binds them together in one.”
To be continued…
 Gromacki, STAND PERFECT, 137.
 Moo, PNTC: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 267.
 Dunn, NIGTC: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 221. Also see Campbell, COLOSSIANS & PHILEMON, 137.
 Harris, EGGNT: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 132
 Constable, NOTES ON COLOSSIANS, 38.
 S. Lewis Johnson Jr, “Christian Apparel,” BIBLOTHECA SACRA, January 1964, 28.
 Eadie, COLOSSIANS, 237-239
 Campbell, COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 139.
 Baker, UNDERSTANDING THE BODY OF CHRIST, 143.
 O’Brien, WBC: COLOSSIANS, PHILEMON, 191.
 William Barclay, THE NEW TESTAMENT: A NEW TRANSLATION [LONDON; Collins, 1969]
 Bruce, NICNT: COLOSSIANS, PHILEMON, AND EPHESIANS, 151.