Colossians 2:20 – 3:17

 
Death and Resurrection with Christ
Colossians 2:20 – 3:17
 
Our death and resurrection with Christ. Paul had already introduced the truth of our death and resurrection with Christ earlier in vv.11-12. Now he expands on that truth to show its practical implications in delivering us from the elements of the world; from rationalism and particularly from ritualism. First we get the doctrine: our death and resurrection with Christ. Then we get the practical instructions. This pattern is important: the soul needs to be built up before it can be stirred up. 
 
 

The Double Remedy for the Believer: Death and Resurrection with Christ (2:20 – 3:4)

Implications of Our Death and Resurrection with Christ. In the following verses, Paul reasons from the fact that the believer is identified with the death and resurrection of Christ. Our death with Christ delivers us from the elements of the world; i.e. ordinances. Our resurrection with Christ brings our thoughts up to heaven where Christ is. The positive side of this truth gives us an object; Christ in heaven. The practical effect of our death and resurrection of Christ is profound. Most Christians do not want to accept the meaning of this, because it means separation from the world, from man’s religion, and from earthly pursuits, which we naturally want to cling to. As a result, this section of Colossians is largely unknown or at least mysterious to many believers. The reality is that there is a great difference between a believer who grasps merely the death and resurrection of Christ for us, and our death and resurrection with Him. This is pictured in the difference between the two and a half tribes of Israel who passed through the Red Sea, but refused to cross the Jordan, and instead settled in the land of Gilead to the east of Jordan. This illustration can be further studied in the Altar of Ed (Joshua 22).1

As Dead with Christ, do not Occupy with Ordinances (2:20-23)

20 If ye have died with Christ from the elements of the world, why as if alive in the world do ye subject yourselves to ordinances? v.20 Death with Christ. Paul first shows that our death with Christ (by association), means that we have died to the whole order of nature and the earth. Our identification with Adam, made from the earth, has been erased in the death of Christ. In the death of Christ we see an end of man in the flesh. In our death with Christ we see that all methods of cultivating the flesh are useless. We are viewed as dead, and totally unresponsive to the things of the earth. The “ordinances” of a legal system pertain to the earth, and to man in the flesh “alive in the world”. They are compatible with a person living in the world, while still maintaining an outward form of godliness. The law has its application to man in the flesh (1 Tim. 1:8-10), but the believer is no longer in that sphere! The believer’s identification with the death of Christ has a profound significance; in that we are completely removed from the sphere of the flesh, along with any system designed to restrain or improve the flesh.
 
21 Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch, 22 (things which are all for destruction in the using of them:) according to the injunctions and teachings of men, 23 (which have indeed an appearance of wisdom in voluntary worship, and humility, and harsh treatment of the body, not in a certain honour,) to the satisfaction of the flesh. vv.21-23 Ordinances and their tendencies. Ordinances that pertain to natural religion usually have these marks:
  • A List of Rules. First, ordinances tend to become a law governing the outward behavior or appearance. They are either proscriptive (forbidding, “do not handle, do not taste, do not touch”) or prescriptive (requiring, “harsh treatment of the body”, etc.). Human nature gravitates toward law-keeping for a number of reasons, but one is that following a list of rules is perceived as a “shortcut” to godliness. The more restrictions you have, the more godly you are perceived to be. This is of course false. And this focus on man is entire contrary to true Christianity, which fills the soul with the enjoyment of Christ.
  • Focus on temporal, earthly things. The things we touch, taste, and handle, are “things which are all for destruction in the using of them”. That is, eventually they will degrade, rot, or completely disappear. In contrast, the true doctrine of Christianity centers around things that are for eternity, and which cannot be destroyed! Yet this is not to say that the believer should touch, taste, and handle whatever pleases him. The Bible is clear that we must avoid anything that is immoral, or even associated with evil.
  • Rest on the word of man. Although many religious ordinances are based on some part of scripture, they go beyond what scripture warrants, and therefore rest on the authority of man’s word rather than God’s Word; “according to the injunctions and teachings of men”. A simple example of this is seen in the Pharisees, who valued a separate set of “traditions” (man’s word) equally or superior to God’s Word (Matthew 15:3).
  • Have an appearance of super-godliness. Ordinances brought into Christianity give the impression of super-godliness, but underneath the soul is at a distance from God. The Jewish-philosophy that Paul was decrying brought in the “voluntary worship” of angels. This had “an appearance of wisdom… and humility”. It appears to be humble to pray to a mediator, but it really dishonors Christ. Often these ordinances tended toward asceticism, which looks at the physical body as a vile thing; “harsh treatment of the body, not in a certain honour”. This is a core element of Gnostic doctrine; the body and matter in general is evil. Paul especially refutes this error, showing that God does honor our physical bodies, and will one day redeem them and transform them “like unto His body of glory” (Phil. 3:21). But this is the tendency of legality. Even Martin Luther would thrash himself with a whip before he understood grace.
  • Are satisfying to the flesh. These ordinances, if kept even for a time, become a source of pride and self-satisfaction to the individual; “to the satisfaction of the flesh”. This gets extended to others, when the leaders in a legal system force these ordinances on others, “that they may glory in your flesh” (Gal. 6:13). Man loves a law because he it is a line to tow. It allows him to feel good about himself, and to look down on others, while controlling them.

As Risen with Christ, Occupy with Heaven, not Earth (3:1-4)

CHAPTER 3
If therefore ye have been raised with the Christ, seek the things which are above, where the Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God: v.1 A new object. The “if” here is the “if” of argument. We have be raised with Christ. Therefore, our hearts ought to seeking “things which are above, where the Christ is”. What are the “things above” that we are to seek? It is really in contrast to “things on the earth” (v.2). Things on the earth are temporal, but things in heaven are eternal. Heaven is “where Christ is”. It is really the Person of Christ that is to be our object, and the “things above” are really the things that concern Christ as a glorified man in heaven. This is a theme that is high in a moral sense. We are to “seek” these things; this implies desire. We are to desire fellowship with the Father and the Son, settled joy and peace, a sense of the full victory of Christ over sin and the grave, to be pleasing to Him, and that His will, as the Head, would be reflected in our conduct here. Note that here Paul says, “seek the things that are above”, but in Ephesians it is “you are seated above”.
 
2 have your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth; v.2 A new thought-pattern. The exhortation is to set our mind on heavenly things. The mind is the Devil’s plaything, and if we do not have it occupied with Christ then Satan can turn us aside. This is the means by which we can seek the things above. We can choose to think about Christ and His interests, and if we do this our hearts will begin long after heaven, and our destiny with Him. We cannot really change our affections, but what our minds are occupied with our affections will follow. Some people will complain, “but I just don’t feel like seeking the things of heaven”. The problem is that they are filling their minds with the things of earth. The things “on the earth” are natural things, including the ordinances of man’s religion. Specifically, they would seem to be those things that, if made our focus, would lead to sin (v.5). We need to appreciate the things on earth that the Lord has given us, but not make them an object in our lives. It is really a matter of priorities. Jesus said “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). A disciple’s devotion to the Lord should be such that other relationships are, in comparison, hatred. So, we must think about earthly things at times, but they cannot become our all consuming object.2 For example, Jesus told John to care for His mother, because that was a natural responsibility He had as her oldest child. But earthly relationships were not His highest priority. He could say, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34).
 
3 for ye have died, and your life is hid with the Christ in God. 4 When the Christ is manifested who is our life, then shall “ye” also be manifested with him in glory. v.3 A new life. Our whole identity in Adam is gone; we have died with Christ, and our life now is “hid with Christ in God”. The result of being risen with Christ is that we share His risen life (see John 20:22). We call this resurrection life, or in scripture, “eternal life” (John 17:3), “abundant life” (John 10:10), “life in the Son” (1 John 5:11), or “life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:2). This is a new lifestyle that is focused on Christ at God’s right hand. It is a mystery to the world, who cannot understand what motivates the believer. Our life is “hid” in that sense, because the glorious One who is the object of our life is invisible. The hiddenness of Christ is in contrast with the brightness of His appearing. But “when Christ is manifested”, the hidden source of our energy and joy will be revealed! Then, when He is manifested, we also will be manifested “with him in glory”. Christ Himself is “our life”. When He is glorified publicly in this world, we will be also.
 

The Practical Transformation of Our Lifestyle (3:5-17)

The Practical Change. The day of manifestation (v.4) has not come yet. The world does not see the Person who is our life, but they do see our practical walk. When a person is converted, there will be a practical change in their lifestyle. When this is not the case, we have every reason to question if their profession is genuine. The following verses (vv.5-17) discuss the practical transformation that results from being dead and risen with Christ.
 
The Old Man and the New Man. Two closely related terms that come up in this chapter are “the old man” and “the new man”. The old man is an abstract term that describes the characteristic features of the fallen race of Adam in its depraved moral character. The new man is an abstract term that describes the characteristic features of those in the new creation “in Christ”. These terms are not well understood, therefore often confused with the old and new natures. Read more…

Mortify your Members, Having Put Off the Old Man (3:5-9)

5 Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, vile passions, evil lust, and unbridled desire, which is idolatry. v.5 Mortification of the flesh. The “therefore” implied a preceding cause; i.e. our death with Christ. Paul personifies the deeds of the flesh as body parts; body parts that belonged to a body that is now dead. They are the “body parts” of the old man. Are you dead with Christ? If so, put the members of that body to death. Practically, this means we are to treat the flesh as a dead thing. We should have nothing to do with these things, which for the believer are on the other side of the grave. Just as a person’s thoughts work their way out into action through their body parts, so the flesh works its way out through these things; “fornication, uncleanness, vile passions, evil lust, and unbridled desire, which is idolatry”. Notice that these “members” are the deeper types of sin, centering around lustful thoughts and actions that generally form a lifestyle. “Fornication” and “uncleanness” deal with both hetero and homosexual sin. “Vile passions” and “evil lusts” deal with the feelings and desires that lead to sin. “Unbridled desire” is unrestrained lust, and it is equated with “idolatry”. Unrestrained desire is something that ought to be for God alone, and to desire anything in that way is to have an idol! Even people who live in Western societies can be guilty of idolatry; whether it be money, fame, sports figures, business pursuits, etc. How are we to deal with these tendencies? Some people try to fight the flesh with the flesh, by putting themselves under law. That approach will not work. Instead we need to put the flesh in the place of dead, and have nothing more to do with it. This is an action that we are to take as Christians, but the word “mortify” is in the aorist tense, meaning that it is a once-for-all action. You can’t put something to death more than once. But the realizing or “reckoning” (Rom. 6:11) of this truth is something that we go through every day, just as Israel needed to return to Gilgal after every battle. If we only had the first part of v.5 would could get the mistaken idea that Paul is referring to literal physical body parts. Some have fallen into the erroneous notion that we can rid ourselves of the sin-nature by mistreating our bodies. However, this would contradict what we have in Col. 2:23, where “harsh treatment of the body” is condemned. We will not be entirely rid of the flesh until death or the rapture, but we can have deliverance from the flesh through faith and the power of the Spirit of God. Read Romans 6.
 
6 On account of which things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 In which “ye” also once walked when ye lived in these things. vv.6-7 The final result of the old lifestyle. To show how serious those “members” or manifestations of the flesh really are in the sight of God, Paul shows where the end of that old lifestyle will lead. It is “on account of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience”. It isn’t only unbelief that sinners will be judged for, but others sins also. Notice that Paul is speaking of unbelievers; of those who are still in the old lifestyle. This important because some would try to use Col. 3:6 to deny eternal security, as if Paul is saying “if you don’t mortify the flesh, you will come under the wrath of God”. Instead, it shows the end of the old lifestyle. It is proof that God detests sin is that He will bring His wrath “upon the sons of disobedience”. Why? Because they have done these “things”. Whether it be the present governmental judgment of God which comes on sinners even today, or the wrath of God which will fall on sinners in the tribulation period, or the wrath of God which will abide on sinners in the sense of eternal punishment, God will judge actual sins. The Colossians knew what Paul was talking about, because as Gentiles by birth, they had “walked” in and “lived” in these things.
 
8 But now, put off, “ye” also, all these things, wrath, anger, malice, blasphemy, vile language out of your mouth. v.8 Actions of the old lifestyle. The things listed in v.5 were deeper types of sin, but here we have more the outward actions, although no less serious. These are the “deeds” of the “old man” mentioned in v.9. “Wrath”, “anger”, and “malice” are all closely connected. “Malice” is bad thoughts about others. In 1 Corinthians 5 it is connected with the source of defilement; “the leaven of malice”. “Anger” is sudden negative emotion towards a person. We are told to “be angry, and sin not” (Eph. 4:26). Our anger is to be directed against sin, not the sinner. “Wrath” is extreme anger carried into action. If malice is like a smoldering ember, and anger is like a flame, then wrath is like a raging fire! We are to be done with anger in all its forms, from the most notorious form, down to the secret germination of it in the mind. “Blasphemy” is evil speaking or injurious language usually spoken against a Divine Person. Malice, or evil thinking against our fellow man, can sometimes leads to wrong thoughts about God, and then to speaking against God. “Vile language” is the vulgar language of the world; cursing, profanity, unclean jokes, slurs, etc. How careful we need to be, as living in the world but not of the world, to keep clear of worldly attitudes and language.
 
9 Do not lie to one another, having put off the old man with his deeds, v.9 Lying, and the old man. The final action that Paul mentions (although the list is certainly not exhaustive), is lying or deceit. Lying is one of the six things the Lord especially hates (Prov. 6:16-29). Lying is a perversion of the truth, and a betrayal of trust. Laying is absolutely commonplace in the unconverted world, but it has no place in the believer’s life. Paul introduced the expression “put off” in v.8 and uses it again in v.9. Along with the complementary expression “put on”, comes from the thought of dressing and undressing. Literally, the words mean ‘slip out of’ and ‘slip into’. Like a dirty garment (Jude 23), we have put off the lifestyle that describes the fallen race of Adam in its depraved moral character.

Having Put on the New Man, Now Put on Christ’s Character (3:10-17)

10 and having put on the new, renewed into full knowledge according to the image of him that has created him; 11 wherein there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is everything, and in all. vv.10-11 The New Man and New Creation. We have not only put off the filthy garment of the Old Man, but we have put on a new garment; the New Man. Like the old man, the new man is an abstract term that describes the characteristic features of a lifestyle; but it is perfectly displayed in the Person of Christ; “according to the image of him that has created him”! This is change that took place when we believed the gospel. By receiving the Holy Spirit, we were made partakers of Christ’s resurrection life, and thus brought into a new creation, and therefore a new lifestyle, which is the “new man”. One of the things that marks the new creation is that natural relationships and distinctions have no place (Gal. 3:28). God’s work of creating us anew in Christ has the effect of erasing natural distinctions; gender, social class, religious standing, ethnic background, etc. Read more… Another feature of the new creation is that never decays, but rather is “renewed”. New Creation is also characterized by knowledge; we are given to know and understand the deep things of God.3 But preeminently, the new creation has Christ as its center and pattern. We are “one kind” with Christ (John 12:24). Christ as the corn of wheat, fell into the ground and died, has sprung up again, and has borne “much fruit.” The grains of wheat (individual Christians) have the same life as the risen stalk (Christ in resurrection). Hebrews 2:11 says “we are all of one [kind]. God is so pleased with His Son that He wants to make many more sons just like Him! Just as a potter, who makes one vessel first of clay, then uses it as a pattern for all the following replicas, so we are “renewed into full knowledge according to the image of him”. This is a result of our death and resurrection with Christ.
  
The Image and Likeness of God. These two words are often confused. Adam was created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26). Image is the thought of representation, and likeness the thought of resemblance. As the likeness of God, Adam resembled God morally, in that he was without sin (see usage; Psa. 17:15; Ezek. 1:5; Dan. 10:16). Christ is never said to be the "likeness" of God, because He is God! Christ is the perfect display of all God is as light and love. To say that Christ is the likeness of God would be to deny the truth of His Person (c.p. Phil. 2:7). Though man was created "after the similitude of God", he is no longer in His likeness, because man is morally fallen. As the image of God, Adam was the representation of God in the earth (see usage; Dan. 2:31; Matt. 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:7). The Greeks understood that the image of Jupiter did not necessarily look like Jupiter, but it was made to represent him. Not angels, but man was placed on earth to represent God. Of course, none but Christ is the exact "image" or representation of God (Heb. 1:3). Even though man has fallen, he is still the image of God (1 Cor. 11:10), but he gives a distorted representation. When Adam fell, God-likeness was lost and God-image was distorted; "and Adam lived a hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his likeness, after his image..." (Gen. 5:3). In the new creation, which is created "in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:10), we find that likeness is restored (Eph. 4), because the believer's new nature now resembles God in His characters of light and love. Furthermore, image is renewed (Col. 3), because God now looks down at the new race, and He is accurately represented in that race.4 When it comes to practical exhortations, in Ephesians we are told to be like God (because we are), and in Colossians we are told to represent God (because we do).
 
12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; v.12 Christlike Affections and Attitude. Not only have we put off the old man and put on the new man, but we have put off the deeds of the old (v.9), and put on the deeds of the new man. These are things that we are to be characterized by, but not as under law. Notice that they flow from our new identity in Christ; from who and what we are, rather from a legal requirement. This is why it says “as the elect of God, holy and beloved”. The is a dignity the comes along with being in the image of God; we are to represent Him! These characteristics are the automatic fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), if we are walking in the Spirit and occupied with Christ, but here it is given to us as an exhortation because we are being addressed in our responsibility. “Compassion” and “kindness” have to do with our affections (Mark 1:41; 6:34). “Lowliness” and “meekness” have to do with our attitude, in not taking offense, and in not giving offense (Matt. 11:29). “Longsuffering” has to do with our patience in dealing with others (Hebrews 12:3). Note that Colossians doesn’t bring our the truth of the indwelling Spirit, as we get in Ephesians, where we learn that God dwells in us individually by His Spirit, and in the church collectively.
 
13 forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any should have a complaint against any; even as the Christ has forgiven you, so also do “ye”. 14 And to all these add love [agápe], which is the bond of perfectness. vv.13-14 Forgiveness and Love. If our heart is right and our attitude is right, then we will be able to show forgiveness to those who have offended us. It even includes “if any should have a complaint against any”, which is more broad even than personal offenses. The standard for us to follow is Christ Himself; “even as the Christ has forgiven you, so also do ye”. How much has Christ forgiven us? More than we can ever calculate. It is like the debtor of ten thousand talents in Matthew 18:23-35, who was frankly forgiven by his master, but then refused to forgive his fellow-servant who owed him a hundred denarii. When we compare the debt of our brother’s sin against us to our sin against God, it is nothing. We are to forgive as readily and as freely as we have been forgiven by Christ Himself, who bore our sins on the cross. Christ is our pattern in forgiveness, and in all of these characteristics (vv.12-15). To everything aforementioned, was are to “add love”. This is agápe love; love in a divine sense. Agápe love is sacrificial and unconditional. It is selfless in that it gives and expects nothing in return. It is the love of a settled disposition. Love is called “the bond [or tie] of perfectness [or maturity]“. This means that divine love, when it characterizes and becomes the spirit of our actions, heals relationships, and tends to unite the hearts of God’s people. Any action taken without love, as 1 Corinthians 13 warns us, is futile and empty.5
 
15 And let the peace of Christ preside in your hearts, to which also ye have been called in one body, and be thankful. v.15 Peace and Thankfulness. If we have a right heart and attitude (v.12), and are maintaining right relationships with our brethren (vv.13-14), then we will be filled with peace and thanksgiving. The “peace of Christ” is the same peace that our Lord Jesus had in His pathway here on earth, and which He has even now as a glorified man in heaven! Was our Lord ever disturbed? No. He was characterized by a divine tranquility that was a result of walking in perfect dependence on His Father. “I give my peace to you: not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it fear” (John 14:27). The Lord promised to give His peace to the disciples. Though He faced constant opposition and suffering, He lived every moment in perfect communion with His Father. The wind and the waves did not trouble Him then, and they do not trouble Him now. This peace is to “preside” or “reign” in our hearts. It is something the we must “let” or “allow”. We can chose to be worried or anxious, or we can choose to let the peace of Christ reign in our hearts. But it should not only reign in our hearts, but also in our relationships with our brethren. Here something is added that Jesus did not say to His disciples, because it is connected with the assembly which did not then exist. We have been called to peace “in one body”. Peace between believers is wrapped up in the very principle of the Church’s unity. It is part of our calling. Often we think of our calling as an individual thing (Rom. 8:30), but we also have a collective calling. We are one body, and the body of Christ ought to remain in a state of peace. To apply this, we are not talking about finding peace in isolation from our brethren, which some have done. We are talking about finding peace in unity with our brethren. To this is added the propriety of thankfulness; “and be thankful”. A thankful attitude ought to characterize those who have put on the new man. We have so much to be thankful for!
 
16 Let the word [‘logos’] of the Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another, in psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to God. v.16 The Word of Christ in Us, Coming out in Song. What is “the word of Christ”? Edward Dennett suggested that the word of Christ is “the sum of His communications to His people… the revelation of Himself.”6 This would include not only the words of Christ on earth, nor even just the gospels, but what Christ gave from His new exalted position as a glorified man; i.e. including the New Testament epistles. (see notes on the Word and Words of God). The full communication of the Person of Christ to us should “dwell” in our hearts. This means we are to enjoy it! As an engaged woman treasures every letter, every word, from her bridegroom, we should treasure everything Christ has communicated to us of Himself. We are to be saturated “richly” with the Word to the extent that is flows out of us “in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another, in psalms, hymns, spiritual songs”. Poetic expression of Christian knowledge is a fundamental part of Christianity. It does three things: (1) it edifies ourselves and others, “in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another”, (2) it fills our hearts with a sense of God’s grace, “singing with grace in your hearts”, and (3) it is a form of prayer, or communication with divine Persons, “to God”. If we have the Word of Christ dwelling in us, it will help us in applying vv.12-15.
 
Singing in the New Testament. From Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 it is evident that early Christians sang psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. From 1 Corinthians 14 it is evident that these were sung regularly in the assembly meetings, as well as in private (James 5:13). Singing has a way of reaching the soul in a deeper way that mere words. We can edify ourselves and others by the truths contained in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. You can learn songs even without knowing how to read. Perhaps the majority of church history, a great methods for communicating. These psalms, etc. are quite distinct from the inspired poetry in the Old Testament, written by David, Asaph, and others for the Jewish people. We have no indication that Old Testament inspired psalms were sung in the assembly of God. Nor do we have an indication that there is such a thing as inspired New Testament hymns, etc. Perhaps the closest thing is the likely short "spiritual song" in 1 Cor. 15:3-4. That may have been a song common to early Christians, but recorded by inspiration in Paul's epistle. As a side note, there is no mention of musical accompaniment with New Testament singing. The Church has brought in the use of musical instruments from "the camp" of Judaism (Heb. 13:13). Instead, we sing "with your heart to the Lord". Collective singing is a wonderful thing, because it brings all the hearts of the saints together in unison.
  1. Psalms are about the wilderness experience (e.g. "O Jesus, Friend unfailing", "Though dark be our way", "Though in a foreign land").
  2. Hymns are addressed to a divine person (e.g. "Father, Thy name our souls would bless", "Thou Art the Everlasting Word", "Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour Thou").
  3. Spiritual songs are songs about the truth of God (e.g. "Amazing Grace", "We joy in our God, and we sing of that love", "How good is the God we adore").
 
17 And everything, whatever ye may do in word or in deed, do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by him. v.17 The Name of the Lord Jesus. As a summary statement, we are exhorted to do and “everything”, in “the name of the Lord Jesus”. This means that all we do and say should be in keeping with His character, for His glory, and with Him as our object. This is all inclusive. It is because Christ is our life. Can we eat a meal without Him? Can we make decisions in life without Him? Can we enter into even human relationships without Him? No. He is our life! In keeping with the context of the epistle and the inroads of Gnosticism among the Colossians, the apostle emphasizes the sufficiency of Christ in every way, including as a guard for our talk and walk. He says “Lord Jesus” because the Lord’s authority is implied. Finally, all is to be done in the attitude of thanksgiving; “giving thanks to God the Father by him”. This gives us a beautiful pattern for our praise and thanksgiving. Our prayers are addressed to God the Father, and they ascend before His throne in virtue of our Lord Jesus. This is why it says in Eph. 5:20, that we give thanks “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
 
  1. There is in many Christians the entire overlooking of this truth either as a privilege for enjoyment or as a reality for practice. To them it is a mere mysticism, the idea of being dead and risen with Christ, which they are too humble and reverent to look on and think about. Let me add that it is not the same thing as having life in Christ, for this was of course ever true of believers before there was or could be such a standing as that of being dead and risen with Christ. After the death and resurrection of Christ, such was the great change in this respect that then came in. – Kelly, William. The Epistle to the Colossians.
  2. Suppose a person to be engaged in business; is he not to attend to it? Surely; yet not to set his mind on it, but simply to go through all as a duty to the Lord. Ought he not to do it better than another man who has not Christ? I am assured that such would be the fruit of looking to the Lord, while the same single-eyedness and faith would preserve him from the snares of covetousness, as well as vain glory. The Christian thus taught and walking has an object before his soul which alone is adequate to raise a man above self and the world. – Kelly, William. The Epistle to the Colossians.
  3. The new man is renewed in knowledge, or in other words made new for knowledge. – Darby, J.N. Notes on the Epistle to the Colossians.
  4. It has been well remarked that in Ephesians Christ is never spoken of as the image of God; He is so, very expressly, in Colossians. If we may discriminate, what we have in Ephesians is more Christ showing me what God is — not His image, but His moral likeness reflected in Christ. Hence it is said, "Be ye imitators of God, as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us." It is more the notion of resemblance than representation. Still, although you can say of Christ, He is the image of God, He is never said to be in the likeness of God, just because He is God. In Colossians we hear repeatedly of the image of God. Here, for instance, the new man is said to be "after the image of him that created him"; as in the first chapter Christ is said to be the image of the invisible God. The two ideas of likeness and image may often be confounded in our minds, but not so in Scripture, where likeness simply means that one person resembles another; image means that a person is represented, whether it be like him or not — both of course may be together. - Kelly, William. The Epistle to the Colossians.
  5. J.N. Darby explained it this way: love “gives a divine character to all the qualities that have been enumerated”. – Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible.
  6. Dennett, Edward. Expository Jottings  I. Keeping the Word of Christ.