Summary: Exposition of Col. 3:15–17
The Priorities of the Heavenly Citizen: Part Two
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:15–17).
What are the priorities of a heavenly citizen, one who has been raised with Christ and seated in heavenly places (cf. Col. 3:1; Eph. 2:6)?
In Colossians 3:12–17, Paul has been teaching about the clothing of a believer as he referred to the attitudes that should mark a believer’s lifestyle. Believers should put on the clothes of compassion, kindness, patience, forgiveness, love, etc., in order to reflect their new heavenly position in Christ. He concludes his instructions on the clothing of the believer by giving three priorities. These priorities are the outermost garments of the heavenly citizen, those that cover all the others. It is clear that these are priorities because he spends more time on these than the other clothes.
The priority we considered previously was letting the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. The believer should let the peace of Christ rule in his life. It was never God’s will for the believer to be ruled and guided by fear and worry (cf. Phil. 4:6). Fear was a result of the fall (Gen. 3). It made Adam and Eve hide from God and hide from one another. It hindered man’s relationships and resulted in further sin. Instead of letting fear rule, we must let Christ’s peace rule, especially in the area of decision–making.
We have an active role in this. It is something a believer does by an act of discipline. As taught in Philippians 4:6–9, we do this by rejecting fear, living in constant prayer, by thinking on what is right, and by practicing righteousness. We also let it rule by walking in unity with the body (Col. 3:15); discord will remove the Lord’s peace from our lives and others.
What else should be the priorities of a heavenly citizen? We will look at two more priorities in this lesson.
Big Question: What are the commands given in Colossians 3:16–17, and how are these achieved in the believer’s life?
The Heavenly Citizen Must Let the Word of God Dwell Richly in Him
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16).
Interpretation Question: What does Paul mean by letting the Word of Christ dwell richly in us?
The next priority of a heavenly citizen is to let the Word of Christ dwell richly in him. What does Paul mean by letting the Word of Christ dwell richly, or abundantly, as it can be translated?
The word “dwell” Paul used means to “to live in” or “to be at home.” It means to dwell as a resident rather than as a visitor. The problem with many Christians is that the Word of God is like a visitor rather than a resident. They visit the Word of God on occasion, but the Word of God is not living at home in them. It’s not something they are living and abiding in all the time.
The fact that he says “let” the Word of Christ dwell in us means that we have an active part in this process. Many believe Paul is showing us how to let the Word of Christ dwell in us by the following characteristics in verse 16: teaching, worshipping, and giving thanks.
Application Question: How do we let the Word of God be at home in us as discerned from Colossians 3:16?
1. The Word of Christ becomes at home in us as we study it.
One of the ways the Word of Christ becomes at home in us is by studying it. This is implied in the fact that Paul calls us to teach and admonish with all wisdom (v. 16). Anyone who teaches must, by necessity, study. To study means more than just reading; studying includes memorizing, researching, comparing Scripture with Scripture, and more in order to come to a proper understanding.
To study the Bible you will need resources other than the Bible. This may be a shock to many people, but the reality is that because we are so far removed from the ancient context, there are many things that can be misinterpreted or missed altogether.
For example, in order to understand the book of 1 Peter, knowing the fact that the early church was under a great persecution because of the Roman Emperor Nero will greatly help our comprehension of the book. They were being burned at the stake and thrown into the arena to be killed by lions; bloody meat was being placed on them so they could be torn up by dogs, etc. Knowing this helps us better understand the context of the book and its major theme: suffering.