Put on Positive Characteristics (3:12-17).
Safeguard of Christian Living (3:l5-17)
After stating the characteristics, we are to have as the elect of God, and the means to practice to them, Paul now gives the things that safeguard us and our relationship with Christ. Putting on the new man involves four exhortations designed to safeguard us in our walk or conformity to Christ:
- The Peace of Christ. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called into one body” (1:15). In the Greek the verse begins with a connector—kai (and) which is translated in the KJV, but not in many modern translations. It does denote a continuation of the theme, or as a parallel to the theme. Peace is an important truth in scripture. It is what the human heart desires. Its source is God. All three of the Godhead provide it for us. The source is God the Father (Phil 4:7), the Son (John 14:27), and the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Many times peace is used in the objective sense which speaks in terms of reconciliation (cf. Rom. 5:1). This peace has the following features in the Biblical world:
- The fulfillment of the eschatological hope found in Israel’s Messiah.
- The fulfillment of the gentile peace that comes through Christ, not imperial military pacification.
- The means of hope is found in the work of the cross (1:20).
Thus true peace has a cause (the cross) and effect—peace to those who believe.
Contra O’Brien, this is not the equiant to salvation. Paul is not talking about objective peace with God, but a subjective peace of Christ, that is to rule within us. This security and assurance of peace comes by submission… “let [it] rule in your hearts” (3:15). This is a subjunctive aspect of peace. It calls for believers to let peace rule. It is a call to the Colossian believers for peace to be the decisive factor over conflicts within the church. The word rule is to be the dominant factor over such conflict. The word rule means to act as an umpire, and has the connotation of control. It is in the present active voice, which speaks of the constant activity of the peace of Christ in our life. It is the ruling peace that is to govern us. We are to be submissive to its control. The phrase “in your hearts” indicates that is an inner peace, especially the location of the peace is to be within us. Moo notes that “Paul is not saying that the peace is in our hearts; but is saying that the peace should rule in the heart.” Surrender to internal peace is the characteristic of the new man.
Peace keeps and protects the unifying principle within the body of Christ, “to which you were called in one body” (3:14). Here Paul reminds us that peace is a prime element of our calling as believers. We are called to have peace with God and with one another. Peace is the purpose of our call. We are to be “diligent to preserved the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). We are called to be participants of reconciliation within the church, the body of Christ. Reconciliation results in peace. The place of peace is to be active within the body of Christ (cf. Eph. 2:15).
- Thanksgiving (3:15). The second exhortation is to thankfulness: “be thankful.” This is a common motif of the epistle (1:3, 12; 2:7; 3:17; 4:2) However, there is an element in the Greek text that is commonly overlooked or missed in most translations. The verb is in the present tense and middle voice. It indicates the idea of continuality. The it could be translated “You continually be thankful.” Thanksgiving marks certain elements in the life of a believer:
- Humility of heart.
- An expression of worship.
- Acknowledgment of the sovereignty of God.
- Gratitude for our salvation.
- Celebrates the sufficiency of Christ’s work in our daily life.
- Praise unto God for His gracious character and bestowal of grace in our life.
- Gratitude for the provision and blessings of God.
Thanksgiving to God is acceptable to Him (1 Thess. 5:18), Neglect of it opens us up to sin (Rom 1:21); whereas in contrast it acts as an antidote to sin (Eph. 5:4). No wonder Paul exhorts us to be continually thankful.
- Word of
Christ. The next exhortation is to “Let
the word of Christ richly dwell within you” (3:16). The word of Christ is used only here in
the New Testament. It speaks of the assimilation of the Word of Christ
into our lives. There are those who hold that this refers to the earthly
teaching of Christ.
While there may be parallels between the earthly teaching concerning the
kingdom of heaven and the truth for the church, the body of Christ. The
two are not the same. The earlier teaching centered upon the nation Israel
and limited to the lost sheep of Israel (Matt. 10:5-6). Paul’s scope
centers upon the Gentiles and the oneness of the two. It is universal in
focus. This is part of a later revelation given to Paul (Eph. 3:1-10). Paul
was given a new revelation, and not a repeat of the earthly teaching of
Christ. It is the word of Christ to the church, the body of Christ. The conv/remergence
of the Jew and Gentile did not take place until the ministry of Paul (cf.
1 Corinthians 12:13; Gal. 1:15-16; Eph. 3:6, Col. 1:25-29). Paul makes
clear it was a mystery, not revealed until his ministry, and which was
after the early life of Christ that he preaches.
It is argued that the phrase is to be taken as an objective genitive. It is built on the word that comes from Christ. The word is seen as the gospel, seemingly supported by Col. 1:5, where the gospel is identified as the word of truth. To Paul the word of Christ and the word of God is equitant. It is called the gospel of Christ in 2 Cor. 2:12; 10:14.
This word is to dwell in believers richly (1:16). The imperative dwell (enoiketo) means to be a home at, or to live in. It denotes abundance. The phrase within you, could be taken to mean “in your hearts.” The Word dwells within us by means of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:11; 2 Tim. 1:14; cf. 1 Cor. 3:16 Titus 3:5-6). This do not mean that the Word is not necessary; the Holy Spirit works in conjunction with and through the Word. The two work hand in hand. Paul had received the Word by special revelation from Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:20; Col. 1:25-26). Paul wanted the gospel of grace to dwell in the believers.
This exhortation is followed by three Greek participles. The Greek text reads— “with all equitant wisdom, teaching and admonishing yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” The particles are teaching and admonishing (clearly coronating participles) and singing. It is not clear how to handle these participles in regard to the text. It seems to me that they stand as the means or method of letting the word dwell in us richly.
First it has to do with the mind. Teaching is more than communication; it has the idea of instruction. Admonishing means to put in the mind. It is used in the present tense indicating continuously teaching and admonishing in all wisdom.
Second, the third participle has to do with the exercise of thanksgiving in appreciation of the teaching and admonishing. This speaks of worship of the mind by singing and praising God in or with gratitude.
Three participles describe three things that are to be present in the worship service of the church: teaching, admonish, and sing praise to our God. These are expressions of letting the Word of Christ dwelling with us and the congregation.
- The Glory of God: “Whatever you do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (3:17). Paul concludes the exhortation by a summary statement exhortation. Three elements are involved here:
First, all-inclusive actions are in focus here. Word and deed is a common reference to one’s entire interaction with the world (2 Thess. 2:117; cf. 1 Cor. 10:31). They cover every aspect of life.
Second, our lives and its activities are under the authority of Jesus Christ. The genitive case of His name indicates ownership, or possession Everything we do ought to come under His authority and our submission to His will. Our conduct is to be consistent with His character. Our actions should be to His credit and in the sphere of our Lord (cf. Eph. 5:20; Phil. 2:10).
Third, it is to be done in thanksgiving to God for what He has done for us. The word thanksgiving expresses giving good grace. It is to be an action of grace, for we have no merit of our own. God works in and through us and we are to exercise it in thanksgiving. It denotes humility of the mind in praise and thankfulness.
 O’Brien, WBC: COLOSSIANS, PHILEMON, 204-205.
 Moo, PNTC: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 283.
 David Wenham, PAUL FOLLOWER OF JESUS OR FOUNDER OF CHRISTIANITY? [Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans, 1995], 287-288.
 Pao, ZECNT: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 246. Also see Eadie, COLOSSIANS, 250.
 Moo, PNTC: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 286.
 Translated from THE MAJORITY TEXT.
 See the discussion of Moo, PNTC: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 286-289
 Gromacki, STAND PERFECT, 144