Colossians 3:18 – 4:1

Sunday Morning Bible Study

October 15, 2000


There are folks who can get swallowed up in Bible Trivia and arguing over how many angels can stand on the tip of a needle, but whose life is in such a mess that you’d never guess that they were Christian.

Yet if you start to understand what Jesus taught and Paul wrote about, you find that Christianity is immensely practical.  It is not just some kind of theology about who God is, but is supposed to change even how we relate to people.

:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

your ownidios – pertaining to one’s self, one’s own, belonging to one’s self

I have to admit I had to laugh when I saw this word in the Greek, the verse looked like it was saying, “Wives, submit to the idiot husbands …”

I know what some of you ladies are thinking.  “But my husband IS an idiot!” Perhaps you think you’re married to someone like …

In Modesto, CA, Steven Richard King was arrested for trying to hold up a Bank of America branch without a  weapon.  King used a thumb and a finger to simulate a gun, but unfortunately, he failed to keep his hand in his pocket.  Hmmm...

Or …

Police in Los Angeles had good luck with a robbery suspect who just couldn’t control himself during a lineup.  When detectives asked each man in the lineup to repeat the words, “Give me all your money or I’ll shoot,”  the man shouted, “That’s not what I said!”

Actually, even if you are married to an idiot, the Bible says that wives are to submit.

submithupotasso – to arrange under, to subordinate; to subject one’s self, obey; to yield to one’s admonition or advice; A Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”.

This is a lovely word.  Actually, NOBODY wants to hear about it, unless that is, they’re on the other side of “submission”.

is fitaneko to have come up to, arrived at, to reach to; to pertain to what is due, as was fitting

Paul is NOT saying, “Wives submit only to the things that you think are fitting in the Lord”.  But he IS saying, that it is fitting for a Christian wife to submit to her husband.


Submissive wives

(1 Pet 3:1 KJV)  Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation (better translation, “behavior”) of the wives;
(1 Pet 3:1-2 NLT)  In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands, even those who refuse to accept the Good News. Your godly lives will speak to them better than any words. They will be won over {2} by watching your pure, godly behavior.
Peter is saying that even if your husband is an idiot, that a wife needs to learn to submit.  Why?  Because it will win him over.
I believe that a wife that learns to practice godly submission will help her husband to grow into a strong leader.

If a wife constantly makes all the decisions, how is a husband going to learn to make good ones on his own?  He won’t.  He will grow in “wimpiness”.

Your husband needs to hear your ideas, but he needs to learn to value them on his own.  Sometimes that means that he will need to be allowed to fall on his face without being beaten up by you in the process.

We often look at Proverbs 31 as the example to us of a godly woman.  This is a picture of a strong, industrious woman.  Yet there’s a little line mentioned about her husband:

(Prov 31:23 KJV)  Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.

In ancient times, those that sat in the city gates were leaders, they were the “elders”. Submission is part of being a godly woman.  When you submit to your husband, he will grow as a leader. They say that behind every great man is a great woman.  That’s because she supports him.

:19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

loveagapao – of persons; to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly.  This is God’s agape love, an unconditional love that is based on the will and not on feelings.  It is a choice to place value in the other person.  It is a love characterized by giving.

bitterpikraino –to make bitter; to produce a bitter taste in the stomach; exasperate; render angry, indignant; to be irritated; to grieve.  The verb is passive here.  These things are not to be done by the husband to himself.


Forgiving husbands

The key to removing bitterness is forgiveness.  Earlier in Colossians, Paul writes,
(Col 3:13 KJV)  Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
The word “forgive” and “forgave” here mean literally “gracing”.  We are to be “gracing” one another.  We are to be giving each other something that the other person doesn’t deserve, forgiveness.
Our example is Jesus Himself.  Paul wrote,

(Eph 5:25-27 KJV)  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; {26} That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, {27} That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Jesus loved us by giving Himself as a sacrifice for us, dying on a cross to pay for our sins.

He didn’t die for us because we were nice.  He died for us because we were needy and sinful.  Husbands, we don’t love our wives because they are nice to us, but because they need our love.  We don’t lay down our lives, lay down our rights because our wives are sweet and kind, but because they need our love.

If you have trouble forgiving your spouse, could I encourage you to think about how much Jesus has forgiven you?  The more you get in touch with the fact that Jesus has forgiven everything you’ve ever done, the easier it will be to forgive your spouse.

:20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

obeyhupakouo – to listen, to harken; to harken to a command; to obey, be obedient to, submit to

well pleasingeuarestos – well pleasing, acceptable


Diane Kesecker writes (Christian Reader, “Kids of the Kingdom.”),

We were trying to stretch our budget while my husband, Kent, and I were in Bible school. One night, Kent was in charge of dinner and served “shepherd’s pie”—much to the dismay of our seven-year-old, Stephanie.
I tried to persuade Stephanie to eat. “Let’s pretend we’re missionaries and someone invited us to their home for dinner. We must eat whatever they give to us, so we don’t offend them.”
Stephanie wasn’t convinced. She looked at her plate, then at us, and said, “Then let’s pretend I ate it!”


Obedient kids

This is a difficult thing, especially when you get to the age when you begin to realize that your parents don’t know everything and are in fact wrong most of the time.  Did you know that this happens to almost all parents?  It is a known fact that most parents go through a stage when their kids are teenagers in which the parents become stupid.  But hang in there, they will grow out of this, usually by the time you are about 21.
Guys, gals, all I can tell you is to hang on and do what is pleasing to the Lord.  It pleases God for you to obey your parents.

:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

provoke … to angererethizo – to stir up, excite, stimulate, to provoke

discouragedathumeo – to be disheartened, dispirited, broken in spirit


Kind Dads

How can we “provoke” our children?
Bad teasing – going too far, hurting the feelings of a child
Overly high expectations – wanting more from your child than they can give or should give.
Conditional love – never letting them know that you love them or approve of them unless they do some difficult task
Broken promises – promising something to a child and breaking the promise, over and over and over again.  The worst broken promise is when you’re simply not there when you should be.
Abuse – every form of abuse creates anger in a child, whether it’s mental, verbal, physical, or sexual.
Gordon MacDonald writes, (The Effective Father)
“If a father is prone to lose his temper and to pour out uncontrolled spates of words which hit children in the line of fire, he may find himself living for a lifetime with a crushed son or daughter.  Words which explode at an impressionable moment can shape an entire personality.
“A forty-two-year-old man has allowed me to look into the inner recesses of his life and see what makes him what he is today:  a man who is frantically working himself into exhaustion; one who spends every dime he makes for impressive artifacts of luxury and success; a volatile human being whose temper explodes at the slightest hint of disagreement of criticism.  As we talk I ask Tom to tell me about his childhood.
“At one impressionable point in boyhood, when my friend was apparently displeasing his father with the way he was doing a chore, his father said to him, “Tom, you will always be a bum!” Tom goes on to tell me that whenever he and his father had angry moments, the same prediction would be repeated until it burned its way into the boy’s spirit so deeply that, like shrapnel embedded in flesh, the words could never be removed.  Thirty years later, Tom still suffers from his father’s verbal malpractice.  They drive him day and night from a subconscious source to attempt to prove that his father was wrong. Ironically, even though Tom’s father is dead, the habit patterns of Tom’s inner life still maintain fever pitch to convince a dead father and a slightly unsure Tom that he is not a bum.  Let anyone suggest to Tom that he is doing something wrong or that he is deficient in some aspect of his life, and hostility, defensiveness, and furious energy are unleashed to guard against what he senses is a resurrection of the old accusations from a thoughtless father who verbally set the wrong pace.”

Dads, spend time with your kids.

Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott first gained fame with his poems of medieval families living on the English-Scottish border.  Although Scott was well known, his son was ignorant of his father’s literary fame, loving and admiring him for reasons closer to a boy’s heart. Once, the younger Scott was in the company of some older people who were discussing his father’s genius.  “Yes,” put in the boy, “He is usually first to see the rabbit.”   Apparently Sir Walter spent a good deal of time hunting rabbits with his son.  That time together meant more to young Scott than all the novels his father would ever write.

:22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:

servantsdoulos – a slave, bondman, man of servile condition.  Think of employees at work.  Fits, doesn’t it?

obeyhupakouo – to listen, to harken; to harken to a command; to obey, be obedient to, submit to

masterskurios – he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord

eyeserviceophthalmodouleia – service performed [only] under the master’s eyes; for the master’s eye usually stimulates to greater diligence; his absence, on the other hand, renders sluggish

menpleasersanthropareskos – studying to please man, courting the favour of men

singlenesshaplotes – singleness, sincerity, the virtue of one who is free from pretence and hypocrisy.  Not having ulterior motives.  Doing what’s right at work not just to get a raise or a bonus, but because God is watching.

Larry Burkett writes,

“Those who are resentful about the success of others, whose feelings are hurt because of the lack of recognition, or who use jobs as their alter egos all suffer from the same spiritual malady: They are in service to men instead of to God. If a Christian approaches a job with the attitude that some person must recognize him as “better” or “best,” there almost always will be disappointment, because the first time the boss forgets to show appreciation, resentment creeps in.”

:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

do (1st)poieo – to make; to do

do (2nd)ergazomai – to work, labour, do work

heartilyek psuche (“out of the soul”) – the soul; the seat of the feelings, desires


Work for Jesus

Who do you work for?
Howard Hendricks was a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary.  He did a lot of traveling and speaking and American Airlines made him kind of an “inspector”, a person who would write critiques about his flights, and give the reports to the managers.  He told a story about one flight, where the stewardess did a wonderful job.  Crying babies, drunk businessmen, nothing stopped her from smiling and politely serving.  At the end of the flight, he stopped to talk to her, to tell her that he was going to write some good things about her.  She replied, “Well Mr. Hendricks, I don’t work for American Airlines.”  Seeing he was puzzled, she continued, “I work for Jesus Christ.”
If you stop working for your employer and start working for Jesus Christ, I guarantee you that your attitude will change.
Instead of looking at the things that bug you about work and being upset at your employer, look at them as an assignment from Jesus.  Sometimes it’s a test from the Lord to see just how you’ll represent Him.
Even the yuckiest jobs can take on a whole new perspective when you start working for the Lord.

:24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

receiveapolambano – to receive; of what is due or promised

rewardantapodosis – recompence, to reward or repay someone

inheritancekleronomia – an inheritance, property received (or to be received) by inheritance; what is given to one as a possession

servedouleuo – to be a slave, serve, do service


The rewards come from the one you work for.

If you work for people, then the only place you can expect reward from is your boss. If you’re working for Jesus, then you’ll receive rewards from Him.
Larry Burkett writes,
“It is interesting to note that the workers whose bosses praise them most highly are usually the ones who require the least praise. It takes a lot of energy to remember to praise someone for everything he or she does right. What a joy it is when a boss finds a quiet, efficient, self-starter who continually looks after the interest of other employees. Those qualities are so rare that the boss is torn between promoting that person and keeping him or her at the present job.”
“I have found a common characteristic in Christians who don’t rely on praise from others: they take literally the principle of work in Colossians 3:23-24. …The key is that they look to the Lord for their rewards, and in doing so they find God’s standards of conduct are so much higher than men’s that they surpass any bosses’ expectations.”

:25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

doeth wrongadikeo – to act unjustly or wickedly, to sin,; to be a criminal, to have violated the laws in some way; to do wrong; to do hurt

receivekomizo – to care for, take care of, provide for; to carry, bear, bring to, to carry away for one’s self, to carry off what is one’s own, to bring back

respect of personsprosopolepsia (“the face” + “to receive”) – respect of persons; partiality; the fault of one who when called on to give judgment has respect of the outward circumstances of man and not to their intrinsic merits, and so prefers, as the more worthy, one who is rich, high born, or powerful, to another who does not have these qualities


God doesn’t care how important you think you are

He doesn’t make decisions because He’s somehow impressed by you.
We ought to do the same.

Colossians 4

:1  Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.

justdikaios – righteous, observing divine laws

equalisotes – equality; equity, fairness, what is equitable

give untoparecho – to reach forth, offer; to show, afford, supply; to exhibit or offer on one’s own part; to render or afford from one’s own resources or by one’s own power


You get what you give

Because you have a Master in heaven, you can expect to get from Him what you give to your employees.
(Luke 6:36-38 NLT)  You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. {37} “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. Stop criticizing others, or it will all come back on you. If you forgive others, you will be forgiven. {38} If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to you.”
This doesn’t mean that you don’t discipline bad employees.  But understand that God is watching that you do it right, fairly, and compassionately.

Who do you work for?

This week, when you’re in the middle of a very yucky assignment, try asking the Lord, “Is it true I’m working for You, and You’re paying attention?”