By Graeme Tearle
Having explained that we are rid of the old and put on the new, Paul encourages us further in the virtues of our Christian lives.
1. Put on the Virtues, v12,13.
In exhorting us to put on these virtues, it assumes that we do not automatically have them – we have to appropriate them, as we are now in Christ.
As discussed in ch.3v7, we behaved in the old nature because we had the natural tendencies within us due to the condition of our natural life.
Those tendencies, sins and inclinations, must be put off so the new nature can be put on. This is a conscious decision and act of commitment.
We put on:
a. Compassion – the inner attitude of mercy and attentiveness to others.
b. Kindness – the Greek word ‘chrestotes’ has the emphasis of goodness in action.
c. Lowliness – humility, a mindful attitude of esteeming other people highly.
d. Meekness – an inner attitude, “an inwrought grace of the soul, mainly towards God” – W E Vine.
e. Patience – intrinsically means “a prolonged restraint of anger” – New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology.
f. Forbearing one another – means not just tolerance, but the commitment of standing behind one another in sympathy and support.
g. Forgiving one another – as the Lord has done so for us.
2. Put on Love, v14.
The crowning act is to put on love.
The New Testament has a special word for love – ‘agape.’
It is not the longing of a person for possessions or worth that is meant, but a generous move by one for the sake of the other. Exemplified in it’s use as the generous love of parents towards their children.
“Agapao” has first the weak sense ‘to be satisfied, to receive, to greet, to honour, or, more inwardly, to seek after’. Hence it is especially the love of a higher for a lower. It is active, not self-seeking love.” – Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.
This love, Paul says, “binds all things together in perfect harmony.” – RSV.
These bindings are like those bands which encircle a package of some kind, such as rings around a wine barrel, or strapping and wrapping around a large commercial bundle, holding it together. The Greek word is ‘sundesmos,’ having the literal meaning of encompassing elements which have the purpose of stability and strength. It is the same word he uses in ch.2v19 of ‘ligaments’ which hold the body of Christ together in order to grow.
The binding of this sacrificial Christian love keeps “perfect harmony” in the body of Christ. This word is ‘teleiotes’ – the significance of this word is that it indicates a goal or achievement has been attained, and a state of completeness and maturity exists.
The presence and activity of sacrificial Christian love in a body is that which makes it grow and have maturity and harmony.
3. Let Peace Rule, v15.
As a guide to the maturity and harmony of the body, Paul encourages that we are called to peace.
To achieve this, we have the peace of Christ as a guide – to rule in the body. This word, ‘brabeuo,’ comes from the sporting arenas of the day and literally means ‘to act as an umpire or referee.’
The over-ruling principle of peaceful relationships in the body is to subject any matters to His rule and guide.
4. Let the Word Dwell, v16.
The harmonious and mature body is a praising, singing body.
As the peace of Christ rules and guides, so the word of Christ dwells in us, leading and guiding us to teach, admonish, and give thanks together in this body.
5. The Name of Jesus Guides, v17.
Further, the name of Jesus is the authority and principle for all that we do.
In verse 15, and again here, Paul emphasizes to be thankful.
Whether in the process of reconciling relationships, or the process of daily guidance from Jesus, our continual attitude is to be thankful for His provision.
Colossians : Points to Ponder.
Commit; to having the love of God and the peace of Christ as our encouragement to harmony and maturity.