Colossians 3:16
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.
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(16) The word of Christ.—Here again the definite phrase, “the word of Christ,” takes the place of the commoner phrase, “the word of the Lord,” “the word of God.” It is to “dwell in their hearts.” Hence it is the engrafted word” (James 1:21)—the truth of Christ conceived in the heart, striking root into it, and making it its dwelling-place. It will be observed how all such phrases prepare for the full conception of Him as Himself “the Word of God.”

In all wisdom.—The symmetry of the original, “in all wisdom teaching . . . in grace singing,” suggests the connection of the words with those following, not, as in our version, with those going before. The indwelling Word of God is described as manifesting itself, first, in the wisdom of mutual teaching, next, in the grace of hearty thanksgiving.

Teaching and admonishing . . .—Here again we have at once general identity and special distinction between this and the parallel passage in Ephesians 5:19-20. There, as here, we have the “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,” “the singing in the hearts to the Lord,” and the spirit of “thankfulness.” But there the whole is described as a consequence of “being filled with the Spirit,” and, as an outburst of that spiritual enthusiasm, of which the spurious excitement of drunkenness is the morbid caricature. Here the thought starts from “the word of Christ in the soul,” realised through the gift of the Spirit by all our faculties; and it divides itself accordingly into the function of teaching, which bears on the mind; “the singing in grace” of thankfulness, which comes from and goes to the heart; and the “doing all in the name of Christ,” which belongs to the outer sphere of action.

Psalms and hymns.—The ascription to those of an office of “teaching and admonition” describes what is their real, though indirect, effect. In the Church, as in the world, he who “makes a people’s songs” really guides their minds as well as their hearts. For good and for evil the hymns of the Christian Church have largely influenced her theology.

3:12-17 We must not only do no hurt to any, but do what good we can to all. Those who are the elect of God, holy and beloved, ought to be lowly and compassionate towards all. While in this world, where there is so much corruption in our hearts, quarrels will sometimes arise. But it is our duty to forgive one another, imitating the forgiveness through which we are saved. Let the peace of God rule in your hearts; it is of his working in all who are his. Thanksgiving to God, helps to make us agreeable to all men. The gospel is the word of Christ. Many have the word, but it dwells in them poorly; it has no power over them. The soul prospers, when we are full of the Scriptures and of the grace of Christ. But when we sing psalms, we must be affected with what we sing. Whatever we are employed about, let us do every thing in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in believing dependence on him. Those who do all in Christ's name, will never want matter of thanksgiving to God, even the Father.Let the word of Christ - The doctrine of Christ.

Dwell in you richly in all wisdom - Abundantly, producing the spirit of true wisdom. That doctrine is adapted to make you wise. The meaning is, that they were to lay up the doctrines of the gospel in their hearts, to meditate upon them; to allow them to be their guide, and to endearor wisely to improve them to the best purpose.

Teaching and admonishing ... - See this explained in the notes at Ephesians 5:19-20. The only additional thought here is, that their psalms and hymns were to be regarded as a method of "teaching" and "admonishing;" that is, they were to be imbued with truth, and to be such as to elevate the mind, and withdraw it from error and sin. Dr. Johnson once said, that if he were allowed to make the ballads of a nation, he cared not who made the laws. It is true in a more important sense that he who is permitted to make the hymns of a church, need care little who preaches, or who makes the creed. He will more effectually mould the sentiments of a church than they who preach or make creeds and confessions. Hence, it is indispensable, in order to the preservation of the truth, that the sacred songs of a church should be imbued with sound evangelical sentiment.

16. The form which "thankfulness" (Col 3:15) ought to take.

Let the word of Christ—the Gospel word by which ye have been called.

richly—(Col 2:2; Ro 15:14).

in all wisdom—Alford joins this clause with "teaching," &c., not with "dwell in you," as English Version, for so we find in Col 1:28, "teaching in all wisdom," and the two clauses will thus correspond, "In all wisdom teaching," and "in grace singing in your hears" (so the Greek order).

and … and—The oldest manuscripts read "psalms, hymns, spiritual songs" (see on [2429]Eph 5:19). At the Agapæ or love-feasts, and in their family circles, they were to be so full of the Word of Christ in the heart that the mouth should give it utterance in hymns of instruction, admonition, and praise (compare De 6:7). Tertullian [Apology, 39], records that at the love-feasts, after the water had been furnished for the hands and the lights had been literally, according as any had the power, whether by his remembrance of Scripture, or by his powers of composition, he used to be invited to sing praises to God for the common good. Paul contrasts (as in Eph 5:18, 19) the songs of Christians at their social meetings, with the bacchanalian and licentious songs of heathen feasts. Singing usually formed part of the entertainment at Greek banquets (compare Jas 5:13).

with grace—Greek, "IN grace," the element in which your singing is to be: "the grace" of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This clause expresses the seat and source of true psalmody, whether in private or public, namely, the heart as well as the voice; singing (compare Col 3:15, "peace … rule in your hearts"), the psalm of love and praise being in the heart before it finds vent by the lips, and even when it is not actually expressed by the voice, as in closet-worship. The Greek order forbids English Version, "with grace in your hearts"; rather, "singing in your hearts."

to the Lord—The oldest manuscripts read, "to God."

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom: one learned man conceives Paul to have written this first clause of the verse as in a parenthesis, joining in the sense what next follows to be ye thankful in the foregoing verse; another would have the parenthesis to begin from Colossians 3:14. The thing here exhorted to, is the plentiful inhabitation of the doctrine of the Bible, more especially of the gospel, that it may take up its residence and abode in our souls, which comes from the spiritual incorporation or mixing of it with faith, Hebrews 4:2; without which it may enter in as a stranger, but will not abide; it may cast a ray, or shine, but is not comprehended and doth not enlighten, John 1:5 2 Corinthians 4:4; it may afford some present delight, Mark 6:20, but not lasting. The apostle would have the word to be diligently searched, heartily received, and carefully observed; a child may have it in his memory, that hath it not in his heart: this indwelling of the word imports a regarding, as well as a remembering of it, Psalm 1:2 John 5:39 20:31 Acts 17:11 2 Timothy 3:15-17. If all the saints at Colosse were concerned in this exhortation, the papists oppose the Spirit of God in excluding (those they call) the laity from familiarity with the Scriptures in their mother tongue, being that all Christians are; here indispensably obliged to instruct and warn themselves, (according to the original word), as well as each other mutually, see Ephesians 5:19. Then the use of the word, and the manner of expressing their thankfulness to God amongst themselves, is in singing to his praise

psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs. He doth not say, teaching and admonishing from these, (as elsewhere, Acts 8:35 28:23), but in them; implying it is a peculiar ordinance of Christ for Christians to be exercised in holy singing, as Jam 5:13, with an audible voice musically, Psalm 95:1,2 100:1,2 Ac 16:25, as foretold, Isaiah 52:8, with Romans 10:14. Some would distinguish the three words the apostle here useth from the manner of singing, as well as the matter sung; others, from the Hebrew usage of words expressed by the seventy, in the book of Psalms; yet, whoever consults the titles of the Psalms and other places of the Old Testament, they shall find the words used sometimes promiscuously; compare Judges 5:3 1 Chronicles 16:8,9 2 Chronicles 7:6 23:13 2 Chronicles 29:30 Psalm 39:3 45:1 47:1 48:1 65:1 105:1,2 Isa 12:2,4 42:10; or conjunctly to the same matter, Psalm 30:1-12,48:1-14,65:1-13,66:1-20, Psalm 75:1-10,83:1-18,87:1-7, titles. Hereupon others stand not open any critical distinction of the three words, yet are inclined here to take psalms by way of eminency, Luke 24:44; or more generally, as the genus, noting any holy metre, whether composed by the prophets of old, or others since, assisted by the Spirit extraordinarily or ordinarily, Luke 24:44 Acts 16:25 1 Corinthians 14:15,26 Jas 5:13. Here for clearness’ sake two modes of the psalms, viz. hymns, whereby we celebrate the excellencies of God and his benefits to man, Psalm 113:1-9 Matthew 26:30; and odes or songs, which word, though ordinarily in its nature and use it be more general, yet here synecdochically, in regard of the circumstances of the conjoined words, it may contain the rest of spiritual songs, of a more ample, artificial, and elaborate composure, besides hymns, Revelation 14:2,3 15:2,3; which may be called spiritual or holy songs from the efficient matter, or end, viz. that they proceed from the Holy Spirit, or in argument may agree and serve thereto; being convenient they be so called from the argument, as opposed to carnal, sensual, and worldly ditties.

Singing with grace in your hearts; and then that this holy singing be not only harmonious and tunable to the ear, but acceptable to God, it is requisite it do proceed from a gracious spirit, or grace wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and the inhabitation of the word, Isaiah 29:13 Matthew 15:8.

To the Lord; to the honour of God through Christ our Lord, Luke 1:46,47 Joh 5:23 1 Peter 4:11.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you,.... The Alexandrian copy and Arabic version read, "the word of God"; by which may be meant the whole Scripture, all the writings of the Old and New Testament, which are by inspiration of God, were endited by the spirit of Christ, speak and testify of him, and were written for his sake, and on his account, and therefore may be called his word; and are what should be searched into, carefully attended to, diligently read, and frequently meditated upon; and which are able, under a divine blessing, to furnish with all spiritual wisdom, or to make men wise unto salvation: or by the word of Christ may be meant more especially the Gospel, which Christ is the author of as God, the preacher of as man, and the subject matter of as God-man and Mediator: it is the word concerning him, his person and offices; concerning peace and pardon by his blood, justification by his righteousness, and complete salvation through his obedience, sufferings and death. The exhortation to let it

dwell in them, supposes that it had entered into them, and had a place in them through the spirit and power of Christ; and that it should have a constant and fixed place there, and not be like a stranger or wayfaring man, that tarries but for a night, or like a sojourner, that continues but for a while; but as an inhabitant that takes up its residence and abode, never more to depart; and intends not only a frequent reading, and hearing of, and meditating upon the word of God but continuance in the doctrines of the Gospel, with a steady faith in them, and a hearty affection for them; for such an inhabitation imports a very exact knowledge of the Gospel, and familiarity with it, and affectionate respect for it; as persons that dwell in a house, they are well known by those of the family, they are familiarly conversed with, and are treated with love and respect by them: and so the word of Christ, when it has a fixed and established abode in a man's heart, he has an inward, spiritual, experimental knowledge of it; he is continually conversant with it; this word of Christ is his delight, and the men of his counsel his guide, his acquaintance, with whom he takes sweet counsel together, and esteems it above the most valuable things in the world, and receives and retains it as the word of God. The manner in which the apostle would have it dwell is

richly; that is, largely, plentifully, in an abundant manner, as this word signifies; see 1 Timothy 6:17 and so the Vulgate Latin version renders it here, "abundantly"; and to the same sense the Arabic version. His meaning is, that not one part of the Scripture only should be regarded and attended to but the whole of it, every truth and doctrine in it, even the whole counsel of God; which as it is to be declared and preached in its utmost compass, so all and every part of it is to be received in the love of it, and to be abode in and by; there is a fulness in the Scriptures, an abundance of truth in the Gospel, a large affluence of it; it is a rich treasure, an invaluable mine of precious truths; all which should have a place to their full extent, in both preacher and hearer: and that

in all wisdom; or, "unto all wisdom"; in order to attain to all wisdom; not natural wisdom, which is not the design of the Scriptures, nor of the Gospel of Christ; but spiritual wisdom, or wisdom in spiritual things, in things relating to salvation; and which is, and may be arrived unto through attendance to the word of Christ, reading and hearing of it, meditating on it; and especially when accompanied with the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, and which is to be desired and prayed for.

Teaching and admonishing one another. The Syriac version renders it, "teach and instruct yourselves"; and may regard not only publicly teaching Christ, his Gospel, the truths and doctrines of it, and all his commands and ordinances, for which he qualifies men, and sends them forth in his name; but private teaching, by conference, prayer, and singing the praises of God, according to the measure of the gift of grace bestowed on everyone: and so admonishing may not only respect that branch of the public ministry, which is so called, and intends a putting into the mind, or putting persons in mind both of their privilege and duty; nor only that part of church discipline which lies in the admonition of a delinquent, but private reproofs, warnings, and exhortations; and as by other ways, so, among the rest,

in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs; referring very probably to the title of several of David's psalms, "Maschil", which signifies giving instruction, or causing to understand; these psalms, and the singing of them, being appointed as an ordinance, of God to teach, instruct, admonish, and edify the saints; for the meaning of these three words, and the difference between them; see Gill on Ephesians 5:19.

singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord; that is, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; and what is meant by singing of them, see the note on the above place: the manner in which they are to be sung is, "with grace"; meaning either by the assistance of the spirit and grace of God, without which no ordinance can be performed aright, to the glory of God, and to spiritual profit and edification, see 1 Corinthians 14:15, or with grace in the heart in exercise, particularly faith, without which it is impossible to please God, see Hebrews 11:6 or with gratitude to God, with thankfulness of heart for his mercies, and under a grateful sense of them; or in such a manner as will minister grace unto the hearers, be both amiable and edifying, see Colossians 4:6 all these senses may be taken in: that the phrase, "in your hearts"; does not mean mental singing, or what is opposed to singing with the voice; see Gill on Ephesians 5:19. The object here, as there, is "to the Lord"; the Lord Jesus Christ, to the glory, of his person and grace: the Alexandrian copy, and the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions read, "to God": and indeed God, in the three divine Persons, and in all his perfections and works, is the object of praise, and his glory is the end of singing praise.

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

(l) By psalms he means all godly songs which were written upon various occasions, and by hymns, all such as contain the praise of God, and by spiritual songs, other more special and artful songs which were also in praise of God, but they were made fuller of music.

Colossians 3:16 f. The series of exhortations begun in Colossians 3:12 is now closed,[157] and Paul proceeds to give, before going on in Colossians 3:18 to the duties of particular callings, an encouraging allusion to the Christian means of grace for furthering the common life of piety, namely, the word of Christ. This ought to dwell richly among them, so that they might by means of its operation (1) instruct and admonish each other in all wisdom with psalms, etc.; (2) by the divine grace sing to God in their hearts; and (3) let all that they do, in word or deed, be done in the name of Jesus with thanksgiving to God. Accordingly, the previous paraenesis by no means ends in a “loose aggregation” (as Hofmann objects), but in a well-weighed, steadily-progressive, and connected conclusion on the basis of the λόγος of Christ[158] placed at the very beginning. According to Hofmann, Colossians 3:16 f. is only meant to be an amplification of the εὐχάριστοι γίνεσθε in Colossians 3:15. This would be a disproportionate amplification—especially as εὐχ. γίν. is not the leading thought in the foregoing—and could only be plausibly upheld by misinterpretations in the details; see below.

ὁ λόγος τ. Χριστοῦ] i.e. the gospel. The genitive is that of the subject; Christ causes it to be proclaimed, He Himself speaks in the proclaimers (2 Corinthians 13:3), and has revealed it specially to Paul (Galatians 4:11 f.); it is His word. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:1; Hebrews 6:1. The designation of it, according to its principal author: ὁ λ. τοῦ Θεοῦ, is more current.

ἐνοικείτω ἐν ὑμῖν] not: among you (Luther and many others), which would not be in keeping with the conception of indwelling; nor yet: in animis vestris (Theodoret, Melanchthon, Beza, Zanchius, and others, including Flatt, Böhmer, and Olshausen), so that the indwelling which depends on knowledge and faith would be meant, since the subsequent modal definition is of an oral nature: but in you, i.e. in your church, the ὑμεῖς, as a whole, being compared to a house, in which the word has the seat of its abiding operation and rule (comp. Romans 8:11; 2 Timothy 1:5).

πλουσίως] in ample measure. In proportion as the gospel is recognised much or little in a church as the common living source and contents of mutual instruction, quickening, discipline, and edification, its dwelling there is quantitatively various. De Wette explains it, not comprehensively enough, in accordance with what follows: “so that many come forward as teachers, and often.” In another way Hofmann limits it arbitrarily: the letting the word of Christ dwell richly in them is conceived as an act of gratitude. How easy it would have been for Paul to have indicated this intelligibly! But the new point which he wishes to urge upon his readers, namely, to let the divinely-powerful means of Christian life dwell richly in them, is placed by him without any link of connection, and independently, at the head of his closing exhortation.

The following ἐν πάσῃτῷ Θεῷ is the modal definition of the foregoing; so that ye, etc.; construction according to the logical subject, as in Colossians 2:2.

ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ] Since what precedes has its defining epithet in πλουσίως, and that with all the emphasis of the adverb put at the end, and since, moreover, the symmetry of the following participial clauses, each of which begins with ἐν (ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳἐν τ. χάριτι), ought not to be abandoned without some special reason, the ἐν τ. σοφ. is to be referred to what follows (so Bos, Bengel, Storr, Flatt, Bähr, Steiger, Olshausen, Huther, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald, Dalmer, Reiche, Bleek, Hofmann, and others; Böhmer hesitates, and Beza permits this reference), and not to what precedes (so Syriac, Chrysostom, Luther, and many others). Comp. Colossians 1:28. Every sort of (Christian) wisdom is to be active in the mutual instruction and admonition. Regarding the details, see on Colossians 1:28.

ἑαυτούς] mutually, among yourselves, comp. Colossians 3:13.

ψαλμοῖς κ.τ.λ.] modal definition of the mutual διδάσκειν and νουθετεῖν, which are to take place by means of (see below, ἐν χάρ. ᾄδοντες κ.τ.λ.) psalms, etc. It is all the more arbitrary to refer it merely to νουθετ. (de Wette), seeing that the position of ἑαυτούς binds the two participles together, and seeing that inspired songs by no means exclude a doctrinal purport. The conceivableness of a didactic activity in mutual singing (in opposition to Schenkel and Hofmann), and that without confounding things radically different, is still clearly enough recognisable in many of our best church songs, especially in those born of the fresh spirit of the Reformation. Storr and Flatt, Schenkel and Hofmann join the words with ᾄδοντες, although the latter has already a definition both before and after it, and although one does not say ψαλμοῖς κ. τ. λ., ᾄδειν (dative), but ψαλμοὺς κ.τ.λ. (accusative), as in Exodus 14:31; Plat. Symp. 197 E, Rep. p. 388 D, and in all Greek authors. The dative of the instrument with ᾄδειν would be appropriate, if it had along with it an accusative of the object praised (as e.g. Eur. Ion. 1091). See, moreover, on Ephesians 5:19. Concerning the distinction between ψαλμοί (religious songs after the manner of the Psalms of the O. T., to be regarded partly as Christian songs already in use, partly as improvised effusions, 1 Corinthians 14:15; 1 Corinthians 14:26) and ὕμνοι (songs of praise), to both of which ᾠδαὶ πνευματικαί (i.e. songs inspired by the Holy Spirit) are then added as the general category,[159] see on Ephesians 5:19. Observe, moreover, that Paul is here also (comp. Eph. l.c.) speaking not of divine worship[160] in the proper sense of the term, since the teaching and admonition in question are required from the readers generally and mutually, and that as a proof of their abundant possession of the word of Christ, but rather of the communication one with another in religious intercourse (e.g. at meals, in the agapae and other meetings, in family circles, etc.)—in which enthusiasm makes the fulness of the heart pass from mouth to mouth, and brotherly instruction and admonition thus find expression in the higher form of psalms, etc., whether these may have been songs already well known, or extemporized according to the peculiar character and productive capacity of the individual enthusiasm, whether they may have been sung by individuals alone (especially if they were improvised), or chorally, or in the form of alternating chants (Plin. Ep. x. 97). How common religious singing was in the ancient church, even apart from divine service proper, may be seen in Suicer, Thes. II. p. 1568 f. The existence of a multitude of rhythmic songs, composed ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς by Christians, is attested by Eus. H. E. ii. 17, v. 28. Regarding singing in the agapae, see Tertullian, Apol. 39: “post aquam manualem et lumina, ut quisque de scripturis sanctis vel proprio ingenio potest, provocatur in medium Deo canere.” See generally, Augusti, Denkw. II. p. 110 ff.

The asyndetic (see the critical remarks) juxtaposition of ψαλμ., ὕμν., and ᾠδαῖς πν. renders the discourse more urgent and animated.

ἐν τῇ χάριτι ᾄδοντες κ.τ.λ.] is commonly regarded as subordinate to what goes before; as if Paul would say: the heart also is to take part in their singing, οὐχ ἁπλῶς τῷ στόματι, ἀλλʼ ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ, ὅ ἐστι μετὰ προσοχῆς, Theophylact. But Paul himself has not in the least expressed any such contrasting reference; and how superfluous, nay, even inappropriate, would such an injunction be, seeing that the διδάσκειν and νουθετεῖν takes place in fact by the ψαλμοὶ κ.τ.λ., and this is to be the outcome of the abundant indwelling of the gospel; and seeing, further, that there is no mention at all of a stated common worship (where, possibly, lip-service might intrude), but, on the contrary, of mutual edifying intercourse! The entire view is based upon the unfounded supposition of a degeneracy of worship in the apostolic age, which, even though it were true in itself, would be totally inapplicable here. Moreover, we should expect the idea, that the singing is to be the expression of the emotion of the heart, to be represented not by ἐν τ. καρδ., but by ἐκ τῶν καρδ. (comp. 2 Timothy 2:22; Matthew 12:34) or ἀπὸ τ. κ. Comp. Wis 8:21, also classical expressions like ἐκ φρενός and the like. No, the participial clause is co-ordinate with the preceding one (as also at Ephesians 5:19, see in loc.), and conveys—after the audible singing for the purpose of teaching and admonition, to be done mutually—as a further element of the pious life in virtue of the rich indwelling of the word of Christ, the still singing of the heart, which each one must offer to God for himself inwardly; i.e. the silent praising of God, which belongs to self-edification in the inner man. Chrysostom already indicates this view, but mixes it up, notwithstanding, with the usual one; Theophylact quotes it as another (ἄλλως), giving to it, moreover, the inappropriate antithesis: μὴ πρὸς ἐπίδειξιν, but adding with Chrysostom the correct illustration: κἂν γὰρ ἐν ἀγορᾷ ᾖς, δύνασαι κατὰ σεαυτὸν ᾄδειν μηδενὸς ἀκούοντος. Bengel well describes the two parallel definitions ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ κ. τ. λ. and ἐν χάριτι κ.τ.λ. as distributio of the πλουσίως, and that mutuo et seorsim.

ἐν τῇ χάριτι] does not belong to ᾠδαῖς πνευμ. (Luther: “with spiritual pleasant songs,” also Calvin), but to ᾄδοντες as the parallel element to ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ. In the same way, namely, as the teaching and admonition above mentioned are to take place by means of every wisdom, which communicates and operates outwardly through them, so the still singing of the heart now spoken of is to take place by means of the divine grace, which stirs and moves and impels men’s minds,—a more precise definition, which is so far from being useless and idle (as Hofmann objects), that it, on the contrary, excludes everything that is selfish, vain, fanatical, and the like. Chrysostom says rightly: ἀπὸ τῆς χάριτος τοῦ πνεύματος, φησὶν, ᾄδοντες κ.τ.λ.; comp. Oecumenius: διὰ τῆς παρὰ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος δοθείσης χάριτος, also Estius and Steiger. Hofmann’s view is erroneous: that ᾄδειν ἔν τινι means to sing of something, thus making the grace experienced the subject-matter of the songs. This it does not mean even in the LXX. Psalm 138:5, where בִּ is taken in a local sense.[161] The subject-matter of the singing would have been expressed by an accusative (as μῆνιν ἄειδε), or with ΕἸς.[162] Inappropriate as to sense (since the discourse concerns singing in the heart) is the view of others: with gracefulness. So Theophylact (who, however, permits a choice between this and the true explanation), Erasmus, Luther, Melanchthon (“sine confusione, εὐσχημόνως”), Castalio, Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Calovius, Cornelius a Lapide, Wetstein, Bengel, and others, including Bähr, Baumgarten-Crusius, Schenkel, Reiche. Even though the singing in public worship were spoken of, the injunction to sing gracefully, and especially with the emphasis of being placed first, would touch on too singular an element. Anselm, and in more modern times Böhmer, Huther, de Wette, and Bleek take it: with thankfulness, in which case the article, which Bleek rejects (see the critical remarks), would denote not the gratitude already required in Colossians 3:15 (so Huther), but that which is due. But the summons to general thanksgiving towards God (in Colossians 3:15, grateful conduct was meant by εὐχάρ. γίν.) only follows in Colossians 3:17; and inasmuch as the interpretation which takes it of the divine grace is highly suitable both to the connection and to the use of the article (which sets forth the χάρις as a conception formally set apart), and places an admirably characteristic element in the foreground, there is no reason for assuming here a call to thanksgiving.

As ἐν ταῖς καρδ. ὑμ. was contrasted with the preceding oral singing, so is τῷ Θεῷ contrasted with the destination for others; the still heart-singer sings to God. It is just for this reason that the otherwise superfluous τῷ Θεῷ is added. Comp. 1 Corinthians 14:28.

[157] Lachmann and Steiger have put ὁ λόγοςπλουσίως in a parenthesis, which just as arbitrarily sets aside the new and regulative idea introduced by ὁ λόγος, as it very unnecessarily comes to the help of the construction.

[158] This applies also in opposition to Holtzmann, p. 54 f., who finds in ver. 16 an echo of Ephesians 5:19, which at the same time interrupts the entire connection, and presents something un-Pauline almost in every word (p. 164). Un-Pauline, in his view, is ὁ λόγος τ. Χριστοῦ (but see 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:15); un-Pauline the juxtaposition of ψαλμοῖς, ὕμνοις, ᾠδαῖς (the reason why it is so, is not plain); un-Pauline the ᾁδειν itself, and even the adverb πλουσίως. How strangely has the apostle, so rich in diction, become impoverished!

[159] Many arbitrary more special distinctions are to be found in expositors. See Bähr. Even Steiger distinguishes them very precariously into (1) songs accompanied by stringed instruments; (2) solemn church songs; (3) songs sung in the house and at work.

[160] This applies also in opposition to Holtzmann, who discovers here and in Ephesians 5:19 an already far advanced stage of worship.

[161] As in the Vulgate, and by Luther.

[162] Nevertheless, Holtzmann, p. 164, adopts the linguistically quite incorrect explanation of Hofmann: he thinks that it alone yields a tolerable sense, but that it is foreign to the linguistic usage of Paul (no, it is foreign to all linguistic usage).

Colossians 3:16-17. Partially parallel to Ephesians 5:19-20.

16. the word of Christ] The precise phrase occurs here only. It is (surely, though Lightfoot advocates the explanation, “Christ’s word to the Christian; His influence speaking in the heart”) the message of His Gospel, the terms of the revelation of His personal Glory, redeeming work, and holy will. This “word” might be conveyed in the Old Scriptures (see e.g. Romans 15:4; Romans 16:26; Galatians 3:8; 1 Peter 2:6), or by the mouth or pen of Christian Apostles and Prophets.—Cp. e.g. Acts 4:29; Acts 6:2; Acts 8:14; Acts 13:26; Acts 15:7; Acts 15:35; Acts 17:13; Acts 19:10; Acts 20:32; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 14:36; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:1; 2 Timothy 2:9; Titus 1:9; Hebrews 6:1; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; Revelation 1:9; Revelation 6:9.—Thus both O. T. citations and such Christian watchwords as 1 Timothy 1:15; 2 Timothy 2:11, would be “the word of Christ; and as each portion of the New Scriptures (2 Peter 3:16) appeared and was received its words too would be “the word of Christ.”—The definiteness of the Gospel is powerfully emphasized by its designation as a word, a message.

dwell in you] as what has become a permanent part of your thought.

richly] See on Colossians 1:27 for St Paul’s love of the imagery of wealth.—The heavenly “word” was to be abundant as a store (Psalm 119:11) in their memories, and also as an element in their thought and utterance.

in all wisdom] They were not merely to know “the word” verbally, but to handle and apply it with spiritual fitness and rightness. The supreme example appears in our Lord’s use of “the word” of the O.T.; Matthew 4—Such “wisdom,” infinitely higher than that of the mere critical enquirer, would be learnt in communion with the Lord of the Word. Cp. Ephesians 1:17.

teaching and admonishing one another] The Greek is out of grammatical connexion with the previous clauses, but fully intelligible. See Lightfoot’s excellent note.—“One another:—lit. “yourselves.” See note on Colossians 3:13; and on Ephesians 5:19.

Teaching … admonishing:—in the parallel, Ephesians 5:19 (where see our notes throughout), we have merely “speaking.”—The spiritual importance of Christian hymnody comes out impressively here. It is no mere luxury of devotion, certainly no mere musical pleasure; it is an ordained vehicle of instruction and warning.

psalms … hymns … spiritual songs] Verbatim as Ephesians 5:19. To summarize our comment there; it is impossible to draw absolute limits between these kinds of sacred music; but on the whole the psalm may be exemplified by (in the O.T.) the songs of the Psalter, and (in the N.T.) those of Luke 1, 2, their Christian parallel; the hymn by the chant of the disciples, Acts 4; and the song or ode (ôdê) by such rhythmic “words” as those of 2 Timothy 1:11. This last citation is notably full of both “teaching” and “admonition.”

Spiritual songs:—not necessarily inspired, as Scripture, but pregnant with spiritual truth. Yet it is at least possible, from the recent mention of “the word of Christ,” that “songs” due to inspired authorship are here referred to, at least specially.—Luther, master and lover of hymns, writes in his Version here, out of the fulness of his heart, mit geistlichen lieblichen Liedern.

with grace] Lit., “in the grace”; conditioned by “the grace given unto you.”—“Grace” here is, in effect, the presence of God in the believer, with its holy, loving power.

Colossians 3:16. Ὁ λόγος, the word) by which ye have been called.—ἐνοικείτω, have its indwelling in you) as in a temple, for ever.—ἐν ὑμῖν, in you) in your inner man; comp. full, Romans 15:14.—πλουσίως, richly) The distribution follows: in all wisdom[25]—one another [ἑαυτοὺς, admonishing yourselves]: with grace—in[26] your heart, i.e. mutually and apart. In wisdom, with grace, occur again, ch. Colossians 4:5-6.—ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ διδάσκοντες, teaching in all wisdom) So it must be construed, comp. ch. Colossians 1:28. The nominative, by Syllepsis,[27] depends on ἐνοικείτω, “let the peace dwell in you,” i.e. have ye it dwelling in you [and therefore διδάσκοντες, agreeing with ὑμεῖς, is put]; and this construction is the more suitable on this account, that γίνεσθε, be ye, which occurs a little before, has possession of the reader’s mind.—ἑαυτοὺς, yourselves) ἀλλήλους, one another. There are parallel expressions at Colossians 3:13.—ψαλμαῖς, in Psalms) Ephesians 5:19.—ἐν χάριτι, with grace) χάρις, חן, Psalm 45:3.

[25] Engl. Vers. loses this ‘distribution’ of the rich indwelling of the word of Christ, by putting a semicolon after wisdom, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom;” Lachm. rightly puts (ὁ λογος τοῦ Χριστου ἐνοικίτω ἐν ὑμῖν πλουσίως) in a parenthesis, and thus ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ διδασκουτες, etc., is joined with the previous ἐυχάριοτοι γινεσθε.—ED.

[26] The 2d Ed. prefers, and the Germ. Vers. distinctly expresses the plural, ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις, which is not approved in the margin of the older Ed.—E. B.

[27] Where the concord of the parts of speech is regulated not by strict syntax, but by the meaning in the mind, as here, ἐν ὑμῖνδιδάσκοντες, for διδάσκουσιν. But Lachmann’s punctuation makes this needless. See my note above.—ED.

ABCD(Δ)Gfg Vulg. read ταῖς καρδίαις. So Lachm. Tisch., without any of the oldest authorities, reads as Rec. Text, τῇ καρδίᾳ.—ED.

Verse 16. - Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom (Colossians 1:5, 9, 27, 28; Colossians 2:2, 3; Colossians 4:5, 6; Ephesians 1:17, 18; Ephesians 3:8, 9; 1 Corinthians 1:5, 6; 2 Timothy 3:15). The "word of Christ" is the Christian doctrine, the gospel in the widest sense of the term (Colossians 1:5), as proceeding from Christ (Galatians 1:11, 12; Hebrews 2:3; Matthew 28:20; 2 Corinthians 13:3). This precise phrase occurs only here, where the name of Christ is emphasized in so many ways (comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:1). The apostle, it may be, alludes primarily to the personal teaching of Christ himself (comp. Acts 20:35; 1 Corinthians 7:10). "You" is understood collectively by Meyer and others ("amongst you"); but the verb "dwell in" (Romans 8:11; 2 Timothy 1:5, 14) requires the stronger sense, suggested also by the "in your hearts" of ver. 15 (comp. note on "in you," Colossians 1:27). As "the word" is rich in the Divine wealth stored in it (Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 1:7, 18; Ephesians 2:4, 7; Ephesians 3:8; Titus 3:6), so it is to dwell "richly" in those who possess it. "In all wisdom" God's grace abounded (Ephesians 1:8), and St. Paul himself taught (Colossians 1:28); so with the richly indwelling word in the minds of the Colossians, especially as they were beset by intellectual forms of error (Colossians 1:9; Colossians 2:2-4, 8, 23: comp. Colossians 4:5; Ephesians 5:15). In this connection of thought, the phrase appears to belong to the previous sentence; so English Version and Lightfoot. Bengel, Meyer, Alford, and Ellicott, however, attach it to the words which follow. Teaching and admonishing each other [or, yourselves: comp. ver. 13, note] (Colossians 1:28; Romans 15:14; Hebrews 5:12; Hebrews 10:24, 25; Ephesians 4:15, 16). (For this absolute participial nominative, so marked a feature of St. Paul's style, comp. Colossians 1:10; Colossians 2:2; Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 1:30; Philippians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 7:5; Winer, p. 716.) What he is doing in his own ministry and by writing this letter, he bids the Colossians do for each other. "Teaching" precedes, being suggested by "wisdom." With psalms, hymns, spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19; 1 Corinthians 14:26). These are to be a chief means of mutual edification. The repeated "and," also the singular "heart," and "Lord" in place of "God" in the sequel of the verse, are borrowed by the Received Text from Ephesians 5:19. The Greeks, the Asiatic Greeks in particular, were devoted to the arts of music. Song and jest, stimulated by the wine cup, were the entertainment of their social hours (Ephesians 5:4, 18, 19). Their Christian intercourse is still to be enlivened by the varied use of song, and by the play of wholesome wit (Colossians 4:6; Ephesians 4:29); but both song and speech are to be "in grace," stamped with a spiritual character and governed by a serious Christian purpose. A "psalm" (from ψάλλω, to play an instrument) is "a song set to music;" but this name was already in the LXX appropriated to its present use. Whether its application here is restricted to the psalms of the Old Testament is doubtful (comp. 1 Corinthians 14:15, 26). "Hymn" (ὕμνος) denotes a solemn, religions composition, or song of Divine praise. The word "song" (ode, ᾠδή) is wider in sense; hence is qualified by "spiritual," equivalent to "with [or, 'in'] the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18) - "songs of a spiritual nature, inspired by the Holy Ghost" (comp. "spiritual wisdom," Colossians 1:9). Such songs would echo the varied sentiments and experiences of the Christian life. In Ephesians 5:14 and 2 Timothy 2:11-13, very possibly, we have fragments of early Christian song. St. Paul's own language, in more exalted moods, tends to assume a rhythmic and lyrical strain (see introductory note on Colossians 1:15-20). In grace singing, in your hearts, to God (Colossians 4:5; Ephesians 5:19; 1 Corinthians 14:2, 15, 28; Romans 8:27; 1 John 3:19; Revelation 2:23; 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 28:9). "The correct reading is ἐν τῇ χάριτι (in the grace);" so Lightfoot, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott and Herr in margin, rejected by the Revisers. The tendency to omit the article in prepositional phrases should be taken into account in its favour here. And the article helps the sense by giving "grace" a definite Christian meaning (so "the love," ver. 14). Otherwise, ἐν χάριτι may mean no more than "gracefully," "pleasantly;" comp. Colossians 4:6. "The (Divine) grace" is the pervasive element and subject matter of Christian song. Its constant refrain will be, "to the praise of the glory of his grace!" (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14: comp. Romans 1:5, 6). "In your hearts" (ver. 15) - the inner region of the soul - there is the counterpart, audible "to God," of the song that vibrates on the lips. In Ephesians 5:19 we read, "with your hearts" - the instrument (here the region) of the song. (For the connection of "in your hearts" and "to God," comp. vers. 22, 23; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; Acts 15:8; Romans 8:27; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 John 3:19.) Colossians 3:16The word of Christ

The only occurrence of the phrase. The word spoken by Christ.


See on Romans 2:4, and compare Colossians 1:27.

In all wisdom

Some connect with the preceding words, others with the following - in all wisdom, teaching, etc. The latter seems preferable, especially in view of Colossians 1:28, where the phrase occurs teaching and admonishing in all wisdom; because the adverb richly forms an emphatic qualification of dwell in, and so appropriately terminates the clause; and because the whole passage is thus more symmetrical. "Dwell in has its single adverb richly, and is supported and expanded by two coordinate participial clauses, each of which has its spiritual manner or element of action (in all wisdom, in grace) more exactly defined" (Ellicott).


See on Colossians 1:28. The participles teaching and admonishing are used as imperatives, as Romans 12:9-13, Romans 12:16-19; Ephesians 4:2, Ephesians 4:3; Hebrews 13:5; 1 Peter 3:1, 1 Peter 3:7, 1 Peter 3:9, 1 Peter 3:16.

One another (ἑαυτούς)

Yourselves. See on Colossians 3:13.


See the parallel passage, Ephesians 5:19. A psalm was originally a song accompanied by a stringed instrument. See on 1 Corinthians 14:15. The idea of accompaniment passed away in usage, and the psalm, in New-Testament phraseology, is an Old-Testament psalm, or a composition having that character. A hymn is a song of praise, and a song (ᾠδή ode) is the general term for a song of any kind. Hymns would probably be distinctively Christian. It is supposed by some that Paul embodies fragments of hymns in his epistles, as 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Ephesians 5:14; 1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Timothy 2:11-14. James 1:17, and Revelation 1:5, Revelation 1:6; Revelation 15:3, are also supposed to be of this character. In both instances of his use of ᾠδή song, Paul adds the term spiritual. The term may, as Trench suggests, denote sacred poems which are neither psalms nor hymns, as Herbert's "Temple," or Keble's "Christian Year." This is the more likely, as the use of these different compositions is not restricted to singing nor to public worship. They are to be used in mutual christian teaching and admonition.

With grace (ἐν τῇ χάριτι)

Lit., the grace. The article limits the meaning to the grace of God. With grace begins the second participial clause.

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