Colossians 3:15-17

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 14, 2009


Paul has moved out of the section in his letter where he is clarifying good doctrine and warning about heresies, and is now teaching us how we ought to live our lives.

We’ve been given a lesson in appropriate Christian “fashion”, what to wear and what not to wear.  We are the “bride of Christ”, and it’s important to dress right for the wedding.

Some things don’t look good on Christians:

(Col 3:8 NKJV)  But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.

Some things look good on Christians:

(Col 3:12 NKJV)  Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;

If you look at what all these qualities have in common, you find that they are all about relationships.  They are all qualities that affect our relationships with one another.

Paul continues with this concept of relationship:

:15  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

let … rulebrabeuo – to be an umpire; to decide, determine; to direct

This word has to do with making decisions, with gaining direction in life.

We saw a similar word used by Paul back in:

(Col 2:18 NKJV)  Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
cheatkatabrabeuo (“against” + “to umpire”)
The idea was that of an umpire tossing you out of the game for not obeying the rules.
Here the word is not focused on a bad umpire call, but simply letting something be the “umpire” in your decisions.  What is the “umpire”?

peaceeirene – peace between individuals; inner peace

The peace that God gives is the umpire, the thing that should direct us.  But is Paul talking about the peace between people, or inner peace?

I have to confess I have often used this verse to talk about making decisions, about finding what God’s will was.

I’ve often said that one of the ways we can discern God’s will is whether we experience His “peace”.  If you don’t have a peace about a decision, perhaps it’s not what God wanted.
I’m not sure I want to totally toss out this concept.  Romans 14:23 encourages us to not do something that is not of “faith”.  If you have doubts about something being right, perhaps you ought to wait.
But I’m not sure this is what Paul is really talking about here.
The context is not about making personal decisions, the context is about relationships. It’s the peace between individuals that should be the “umpire” in our hearts.  My decision making process ought to include “peace”.

This is why Paul reminds us that we’ve all been called into the Body of Christ.

calledkaleo – to call; to invite; to call i.e. to name, by name

in one body – the Body of Christ.

God has called all believers to be the “Body of Christ”.

(1 Cor 12:13 NKJV)  For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body; whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
We are all a part of each other, like it or not.


Make Peaceful Decisions

Paul wrote,
(Rom 12:18 NKJV)  If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

It’s not always possible to live peaceably with others.

We ought to be sure that we’re not the once destroying the peace.

peace of God – he didn’t say “let your own peace rule in your hearts”
He’s not saying that we do things to make life easier on ourselves and keep the peace.
I don’t think God’s desire is that we have peace at any cost.

Some of us are afraid to confront difficulty when we see it.  We keep our mouth shut to “keep the peace”.  We don’t want to be the one to “rock the boat”.

There is a place to confront something that’s wrong.  There is an appropriate time to make someone a little uncomfortable.

I think our goal ought to be to having God’s kind of peace be the thing that is driving our decisions.

If I am at odds with someone, what do I need to do to make things right?

If they have offended me, perhaps I might need to bring it to their attention.  Or perhaps I need to just get over it.

If I have offended someone else, maybe I need to make things right.  Maybe I need to apologize.  Maybe I need to fix the wrong I’ve done.

beginomai – to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being

“become thankful”

thankfuleucharistos – mindful of favors, grateful, thankful; pleasing, agreeable; acceptable to others

I wonder if Paul might be talking here about being thankful to others around us.


The monks at a remote monastery deep in the woods followed a rigid vow of silence. Their vow could only be broken once a year—on Christmas—by one monk. That monk could speak only one sentence. One Christmas, Brother Thomas had his turn to speak and said, “The oatmeal is too lumpy” Then he sat down. Silence ensued for 365 days. The next Christmas, Brother Michael got his turn and said, “My bed is too hard” Once again, silence ensued for 365 days. The following Christmas, Brother Paul rose and said, “I am fed up with this constant complaining!”

I think it’s a bit sad when all that comes out of our mouths are gripes and complaints.

Wouldn’t it be nice every once in a while to hear a little “thank you”?

:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

wordlogos – word.  Simple translation:  Think “the Bible”

dwellenoikeo – to dwell in; to dwell in one and influence for good; to be at home in

richlyplousios – abundantly, richly

What kind of a home are you going to make for God’s Word in your heart?

Is it going to be a “cheap” place, or a “rich” place?

Paul is going to define what he means by “richly” with the following words…

wisdomsophia – the practical application of knowledge.

You can be a very smart person who knows a lot of facts, but facts alone don’t help you live better.  I guess that makes you a sort of Bible nerd.

Wisdom is taking facts and knowing what to do with them, knowing how to live, sort of a Bible MacGyver.


Living the Word

One of the questions we’ve heard several times in “The Truth Project” is:  “Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?”
How can you tell?  You can tell by the way you live.

If you believed that I was going to give a million dollars to anyone here who raised their hand, would you raise your hand?

We heard Dr. Tackett share about a fellow he was talking to who was caught in pornography.  Dr. Tackett asked the fellow if he believed in the “omnipresence” of God, that God is everywhere.  The fellow said, “Yes”.  Dr. Tackett responded, “Well I don’t think you do.  You said that your biggest struggle with pornography is when your wife and kids leave the house and you feel alone.  But if you really believed that God was with you, then you wouldn’t be alone.”
We sometimes don’t let the truths of God get too far into our lives.  We settle with a superficial understanding instead of letting God’s Word dwell “richly” in us.
The Psalmist writes,
(Psa 19:7-8 NKJV)  The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; {8} The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;

Do you really believe these things about God’s Word?

I think I could probably tell whether I really believe these things by whether I am spending time reading, studying, and doing God’s Word.

It’s not just learning the Bible that’s important, but learning to do it.

Jesus said,
(Mat 7:24-27 NKJV)  "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: {25} "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. {26} "But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: {27} "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."

In August 1992, Hurricane Andrew blasted across south Florida with 160 mile-per-hour winds, causing terrible destruction. After it’s wake, Florida adopted new building codes.  When Hurricane Ivan came in 2004, you could tell who had built according to the new building codes.  Here’s a house that was built with the new codes next to one that wasn’t.  One withstood the storm, the other didn’t.

You have a choice as to how you are going to build your life.  You can build it according to God’s building codes, or just try and do it your own way.  But what are you going to do when the storms come?

James writes,
(James 1:22 NKJV)  But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?

Paul now gives us some more insight into how God’s Word can dwell richly in us:

teachingdidasko – to teach; to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them

admonishingnoutheteo (“the mind” + “to place”) – to admonish, warn, exhort; counsel

one another – believe it or not, teaching and admonishing isn’t just the job of the pastor.  We all have the ability to do this for each other.

One of the things that I enjoy about Sunday nights is the chance to hear what God has been doing in other people’s lives.  Dave usually gives us a chance to share what God has been teaching us.  I love to hear the stories of how God is at work.  It encourages and teaches me.

Another way we teach and admonish is in the songs we sing…

psalmspsalmos – a striking, twanging; of a striking the chords of a musical instrument; a song with musical accompaniment; might refer to the Old Testament psalms.

hymnshumnos (“hymn”) – a song of praise, whether of gods, heroes, or conquerors

spiritualpneumatikos – “of spirit”, “windy”, might relate to the human spirit; might be of the Holy Spirit.

songsode – generic word for “song”

About a hundred years ago, scholars discovered an ancient manuscript that contained songs dating back to 100AD.  It is thought that these songs were written in Antioch of Syria, the place where believers were first called “Christians”.  This was the church that sent Paul out on his missionary journeys. The work is called “The Odes of Solomon”, not because they were written by Solomon, but after the style of Solomon.

These songs were part of the ancient worship of the early church.  Some scholars and musicians have been working to take these ancient songs, translate them, and put them to music that would be similar to the music of the early church.   The music they have now recorded and published is called “The Odes Project”. The song I want you to hear is an adaptation of “Ode 3”.  This particular song reminds me of our text in Colossians where Paul has been telling us to “put on” certain qualities, to “put on love (Col. 3:14), and to learn to have “peace” with each other.  As you listen, try to imagine that you are back in the 1st century, meeting secretly because of the persecution that has started, and you are worshipping.  You will hear the leader sing a line and the church echoes the line…

Ode 3 (song adaptation)

I’m putting on the love of the Lord (echo)
I’m putting on the love of the Lord (echo)
And I will be no stranger (echo)
For He loves me (echo)
Hallelujah (echo)
Undivided (echo)
Hallelujah (echo)
Because my love is Him that is the Son
I shall become a child of God
I love Him
Because He first loved me
And where His rest is
I know that I shall be
For He loves me (echo)
Hallelujah (echo)
Undivided (echo)
Hallelujah (echo)
I’m putting on the love of the Lord (echo)
I’m putting on the love of the Lord (echo)
And I will be no stranger (echo)
For He loves me (echo)
Hallelujah (echo)
Undivided (echo)
Hallelujah (echo)
Immortal, God of earth and heaven
Be all wisdom and guide us in Your ways
Lord awaken us in love
Mighty Counselor
And unite us to serve You in this day
For Your glory (echo)
Hallelujah (echo)
Undivided (echo)
Hallelujah (echo)
I’m putting on the love of the Lord (echo)
I’m putting on the love of the Lord (echo)

Ode 3 (original text)

1. I am putting on the love of the Lord.
2. And His members are with Him, and I am dependent on them; and He loves me.
3. For I should not have known how to love the Lord, if He had not continuously
loved me.
4. Who is able to distinguish love, except him who is loved?
5. I love the Beloved and I myself love Him, and where His rest is, there also am I.
6. And I shall be no stranger, because there is no jealousy with the Lord Most High
and Merciful.
7. I have been united to Him, because the lover has found the Beloved, because I love
Him that is the Son, I shall become a son.
8. Indeed he who is joined to Him who is immortal, truly shall be immortal.
9. And he who delights in the Life will become living.
10. This is the Spirit of the Lord, which is not false, which teaches the sons of men to
know His ways.
11. Be wise and understanding and awakened.

singingado – to the praise of anyone, to sing

Can you see how people might be “taught” in song?  Did you hear the teaching that is in the song?  Our contemporary songs work much the same way.  This song (like many of ours) is a “psalm”, a “hymn”, and a “spiritual song”, all in one.

with gracecharis – grace; good will; thanks

This doesn’t mean you find someone named “Grace” and sing with her.

It means that your singing is done by means of grace.

You realize all that God has done for you that you did not deserve and you respond with thanks.

in your hearts to the Lord

Sadly, some people think of “worship” as the music that the band plays.  Some think that the music we play at the beginning of the service is some sort of “warm up” for main event, the preacher.

I’m flattered by those of you who might think I’m the main event.  But you’re mistaken if you think that.
God is the “main event”.  He’s the one that can change your life, not me.  You can listen to me all you want, but if you don’t come to the place where you are connecting with God, you are going to find no help by coming to church.

The music, the worship we sing is where you have the opportunity to come before God.

Worship isn’t the sound waves that come out of your mouth, it’s the love that comes out of your heart. Jesus said,
(John 4:24 NKJV)  "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

To worship in “spirit” means that it comes from inside you, from your heart, from your spirit.

I know that some of you are a little more reluctant to show affection to your loved ones in public than others.  Some of you don’t have a problem holding your sweetie’s hand in public.  Others of you get embarrassed by things like that.  But if you were in the dark in the movie theater, wouldn’t it be okay to hold her hand?
That’s one of the reasons that some of us close our eyes when we worship.  It’s kind of like turning the lights out in the movie theater.  Do an experiment with me.  Everyone close your eyes.  Raise both of your hands.  Now put them down.  Open your eyes.  Was it embarrassing to raise your hands?  Some of you might be concerned about drawing attention to yourself during worship by raising your hands.  You can do the “half-mast” thing if you want.  Just open your hands upward to the Lord.  Even if you don’t use your hands, turn your eyes upon Jesus.  Tell Him that you love Him.

:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

wordlogos – word

deedergon – business, employment; an act, deed, thing done

in the name of the Lord Jesus – There are a couple of ideas here:

As His representative

If I was to say to you that I was standing here before you in the name of the President of the United States, I would be called an ambassador.
When the Secretary of State travels to a foreign country and meets with it’s leaders, she is supposed to represent her boss, the President.
Whether I realize it or not, I represent Jesus Christ to everyone around me.
When I pray “in Jesus’ name”, I could be asking myself, “Would my Savior be asking me to pray this?”  “Is this the message He wants sent to heaven?”

According to His nature

In the Bible, a person’s name was often descriptive of who they were.  A name describes the nature of a person.
Jacob was named “heal catcher”, and that’s what he was, a guy who tried to trip up others, to deceive them.
Everything we do ought to be representative of the Lord Jesus, according to His nature.
This is why Paul has been telling to “put on” certain qualities, because these are the things that reflect God’s nature.
Would Jesus say the kinds of things I say?  Would He do the kinds of things I do?
We often think of the word “witness” as something that we say to somebody about Jesus.  When we verbally share our faith, we call it “witnessing”.
But whether or not you open your mouth, you already are a “witness” of Jesus Christ.

You represent Him.

The question isn’t whether or not I will be a “witness”, the question is whether or not I will be a good witness.

Do I represent Jesus in what I say and what I do?

giving thankseucharisteo – to be grateful, feel thankful

Here the idea is not giving thanks to people, but giving thanks to God.

We’re going to share in communion – this is a time to “give thanks” to God.