Paul is writing to a church on the verge of believing a legalistic gospel which claims you must practice certain practices to maintain your favor with God. Paul has been encouraging them to remain true to the gospel taught by Jesus: namely that you are saved by grace through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.
In this series of exhortations, Paul explains how belief in the gospel changes how you act in three pairs of relationships: wives/husbands, children/parents and slaves/masters.
- Colossians 3:17 is the context for 3:18 through 4:1. How should we speak and act? We are do it in the name of the Lord Jesus.
- “in the name of” generally means to act in the place of another. When a policeman knocks on a door and says “open up in the name of the law”, he is asking you to respond to him as a representative of the law. He is acting as an officer of the law, not a public citizen. He is acting in the name of the law.
- Paul gives three pairs of relationships where one side has a measure of authority over the other. In each case he calls upon us to realize we are under the mastery of God. Whether we are the one with a measure of authority or the one called to submit, we are to act in the name of the Lord.
- Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” – Genesis 2:18
- Husband headship is the biblical concept that God assigned the husband responsibility for the marriage and resulting family.
- Being a Helper is recognizing who is responsible and granting him the freedom to follow his conscience.
- We are all equally sinful, equally saved and equally gifted. But we have different roles to play in the body of Christ.
- Love is a decision to look out for what’s best for someone else.
- The natural tendency is for children to deal with their parents with the goal of getting away with as much as they can.
- Instead children need to recognize that God gave their parents a responsibility for their welfare and they need to grant their parents the freedom to exercise it.
- Parents ought to exercise their responsibility knowing they are obligated before God to seek what is best for their children.
- Paul neither condones nor condemns slavery. Rather he recognizes it as a fact of their lives and explains how to respond in that situation.
- Despite the fact that there was no cultural expectation for the master/slave relationship to be characterized by respect or love, Paul says God obligates them to act with respect and love.
- There is a judgment coming that will ask the bigger question of: Did I seek to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no partiality in that judgment.
The overarching theme in this section is to live all our relationships as bond servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing ultimately we serve him. The challenge is to resist the tendency to “win.” Instead we are to recognize God has a higher prior claim on our lives and seek to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ — in whatever situation we find ourselves.
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Study: Colossians Resources
Scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.