12. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels
of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering;
12. Induite igitur, tanquam electi Dei sancti et dilecti, viscera
miserationum, comitatem, humilitatem, mansuetudinem, tolerantiam,
13. Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man
have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
13. Sufferentes vos mutuo, et condonantes si quis adversus alium
litem habeat: quemadmodum Christus condonavit vobis, ita et vos.
12. Put on therefore. As he has enumerated some parts of the old man,
so he now also enumerates some parts of the new. “Then,” says he, “will
it appear that ye are renewed by Christ, when ye are merciful and kind.
For these are the effects and evidences of renovation.” Hence the exhortation
depends on the second clause, and, accordingly, he keeps up the metaphor
in the word rendered put on.
He mentions, first, bowels of mercy, by which expression he means an
earnest affection, with yearnings, as it were, of the bowels: Secondly,
he makes mention of kindness, (for in this manner I have chosen to render crhsto>thta,) by which we make ourselves amiable. To this he adds humility,
because no one will be kind and gentle but the man who, laying aside haughtiness,
and high mindedness, brings himself down to the exercise of modesty, claiming
nothing for himself.
Gentleness — the term which follows — has a wider acceptation than kindness,
for that is chiefly in look and speech, while this is also in inward disposition.
As, however, it frequently happens, that we come in contact with wicked
and ungrateful men, there is need of patience, that it may cherish mildness
in us. He at length explains what he meant by long-suffering — that we
embrace each other indulgently, and forgive also where any offense has
been given. As, however, it is a thing that is hard and difficult, he confirms
this doctrine by the example of Christ, and teaches, that the same thing
is required from us, that as we, who have so frequently and so grievously
offended, have nevertheless been received into favor, we should manifest
the same kindness towards our neighbors, by forgiving whatever offenses
they have committed against us. Hence he says, if any one have a quarrel
against another. By this he means, that even just occasions of quarrel,
according to the views of men, ought not to be followed out.
As the chosen of God. Elect I take here to mean, set apart. “God has
chosen you to himself, has sanctified you, and received you into his love
on this condition, that ye be merciful, etc. To no purpose does the man
that has not these excellences boast that he is holy, and beloved of God;
to no purpose does he reckon himself among the number of believers.”
14. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond
14. Propter omnia haec caritatem, quae est vinculum perfectionis:
15. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also
ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
15. Et pax Dei palmam obtineat in cordibus vestris, ad quam
etiam estis vocati in uno corpore, et grati sitis.
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.
16. Sermo Christi inhabiter in vobis opulente in omni sapientia,
docendo et commonefaciendo vos psalmis, hymnis, et canticis spiritualibus
cum gratia, canentes in cordibus vestris Domino.
17. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of
the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
17. Et quiquid feceritis sermone vel opere, omnia in nomine Domini
Iesu, gratiae agentes Deo et Patri, per ipsum.
14. On account of all these things. The rendering that has been given
by others, “super omnia haec,” (above all these things,) instead of insuper,
(over and above,) is, in my opinion, meagre. It would be more suitable
to render it, Before all these things. I have chosen, however, the more
ordinary signification of the word ejpi>. For as all the things that he
has hitherto enumerated flow from love, he now on good grounds exhorts
the Colossians to cherish love among themselves, for the sake of these
things — that they may be merciful, gentle, ready to forgive, as though
he had said, that they would be such only in the event of their having
love. For where love is wanting, all these things are sought for in vain.
That he may commend it the more, he calls it the bond of perfection, meaning
by this, that the troop of all the virtues is comprehended under it. For
this truly is the rule of our whole life, and of all our actions, so that
everything that is not regulated according to it is faulty, whatever attractiveness
it may otherwise possess. This is the reason why it is called here the
bond of perfection; because there is nothing in our life that is well regulated
if it be not directed towards it, but everything that we attempt is mere
The Papists, however, act a ridiculous part in abusing this declaration,
with the view of maintaining justification by works. “Love,” say they,
“is the bond of perfection: now perfection is righteousness; therefore
we are justified by love.” The answer is twofold; for Paul here is not
reasoning as to the manner in which men are made perfect in the sight of
God, but as to the manner in which they may live perfectly among themselves.
For the genuine exposition of the passage is this — that other things will
be in a desirable state as to our life, if love be exercised among us.
When, however, we grant that love is righteousness, they groundlessly and
childishly take occasion from this to maintain, that we are justified by
love, for where will perfect love be found? We, however, do not say that
men are justified by faith alone, on the ground that the observance of
the law is not righteousness, but rather on this ground, that as we are
all transgressors of the law, we are, in consequence of our being destitute
of any righteousness of our own, constrained to borrow righteousness from
Christ. There remains nothing, therefore, but the righteousness of faith,
because perfect love is nowhere to be found.
15. And the peace of God. He gives the name of the peace of God to that
which God has established among us, as will appear from what follows. He
would have it reign in our hearts. He employs, however, a very appropriate
metaphor; for as among wrestlers, he who has vanquished all the others
carries off the palm, so he would have the peace of God be superior to
all carnal affections, which often hurry us on to contentions, disagreements,
quarrels, secret grudges. He accordingly prohibits us from giving loose
reins to corrupt affections of this kind. As, however it is difficult to
restrain them, he points out also the remedy, that the peace of God may
carry the victory, because it must be a bridle, by which carnal affections
may be restrained. Hence he says, in our hearts; because we constantly
feel there great conflicts, while the flesh lusteth against the Spirit.
The clause, to which ye are called, intimates what manner of peace this
is — that unity which Christ has consecrated among us under his own direction.
For God has reconciled us to himself in Christ, ( 2 Corinthians. 5:18,)
with this view, that we may live in entire harmony among ourselves. He
adds, in one body, meaning by this, that we cannot be in a state of agreement
with God otherwise than by being united among ourselves as members of one
body. When he bids us be thankful, I do not take this as referring so much
to the remembrance of favors, as to sweetness of manners. Hence, with the
view of removing ambiguity, I prefer to render it, “Be amiable.” At the
same time I acknowledge that, if gratitude takes possession of our minds,
we shall without fail be inclined to cherish mutual affection among ourselves.
16. Let the word of Christ dwell. He would have the doctrine of the
gospel be familiarly known by them. Hence we may infer by what spirit those
are actuated in the present day, who cruelly interdict the Christian
people from making use of it, and furiously vociferate, that no pestilence
is more to be dreaded, than that the reading of the Scriptures should be
thrown open to the common people. For, unquestionably, Paul here addresses
men and women of all ranks; nor would he simply have them take a slight
taste merely of the word of Christ, but exhorts that it should dwell in
them; that is, that it should have a settled abode, and that largely, that
they may make it their aim to advance and increase more and more every
day. As, however, the desire of learning is extravagant on the part of
many, while they pervert the word of the Lord for their own ambition, or
for vain curiosity, or in some way corrupt it, he on this account adds,
in all wisdom — that, being instructed by it, we may be wise as we ought
Farther, he gives a short definition of this wisdom — that the Colossians
teach one another. Teaching is taken here to mean profitable instruction,
which tends to edification, as in Romans 7:7 — He that teacheth, on teaching;
also in Timothy — “All Scripture is profitable for teaching.” (2 Timothy
3:16.) This is the true use of Christ’s word. As, however, doctrine is
sometimes in itself cold, and, as one says, when it is simply shewn
what is right, virtue is praised and left to starve, he adds
at the same time admonition, which is, as it were, a confirmation of doctrine
and incitement to it. Nor does he mean that the word of Christ ought to
be of benefit merely to individuals, that they may teach themselves, but
he requires mutual teaching and admonition.
Psalms, hymns. He does not restrict the word of Christ to these particular
departments, but rather intimates that all our communications should be
adapted to edification, that even those which tend to hilarity may have
no empty savor. “Leave to unbelievers that foolish delight which they take
from ludicrous and frivolous jests and witticisms; and let your communications,
not merely those that are grave, but those also that are joyful and exhilarating,
contain something profitable. In place of their obscene, or at least barely
modest and decent, songs, it becomes you to make use of hymns and songs
that sound forth God’s praise.” Farther, under these three terms he includes
all kinds of songs. They are commonly distinguished in this way — that
a psalm is that, in the singing of which some musical instrument besides
the tongue is made use of: a hymn is properly a song of praise, whether
it be sung simply with the voice or otherwise; while an ode contains not
merely praises, but exhortations and other matters. He would have the songs
of Christians, however, to be spiritual, not made up of frivolities and
worthless trifles. For this has a connection with his argument.
The clause, in grace, Chrysostom explains in different ways. I, however,
take it simply, as also afterwards, in Colossians 4:6, where he says, “Let
your speech be seasoned with salt, in grace,” that is, by way of a dexterity
that may be agreeable, and may please the hearers by its profitableness,
so that it may be opposed to buffoonery and similar trifles.
Singing in your hearts. This relates to disposition; for as we ought
to stir up others, so we ought also to sing from the heart, that there
may not be merely an external sound with the mouth. At the same time, we
must not understand it as though he would have every one sing inwardly
to himself, but he would have both conjoined, provided the heart goes before
17. And whatsoever ye do. We have already explained these things, and
what goes before, in the Epistle to the Ephesians, where the same things
are said almost word for word. As he had already begun to discourse in
reference to different parts of the Christian life, and had simply touched
upon a few precepts, it would have been too tedious a thing to follow out
the rest one by one, he therefore concludes in a summary way, that life
must be regulated in such a manner, that whatever we say or do may be wholly
governed by the authority of Christ, and may have an eye to his glory as
the mark. For we shall fitly comprehend under this term the two following
things — that all our aims may set out with invocation of Christ,
and may be subservient to his glory. From invocation follows the act of
blessing God, which supplies us with matter of thanksgiving. It is also
to be observed, that he teaches that we must give thanks to the Father
through Christ, as we obtain through him every good thing that God confers