Colossians 3:18
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
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[6.Special Exhortation as to the relations of life.

(1)THE DUTY OF WIVES AND HUSBANDS (Colossians 3:18-19).

(2)THE DUTY OF CHILDREN AND PARENTS (Colossians 3:20-21).

(3)THE DUTY OF SLAVES AND MASTERS (Colossians 3:22 to Colossians 4:1).]

(18) As it is fit in the Lord.—For the explanation of this special fitness “in the Lord,” i.e., in virtue of Christian unity, see the grand description of Ephesians 5:23-24; Ephesians 5:32-33.

Colossians 3:18-25. Wives, submit yourselves — Or be subject; to your own husbands — Whether they be Christians or heathen. See on Ephesians 5:22. As it is fit — Both in regard of God’s command, and the evil that would arise from the neglect of this duty; in the Lord — In obedience to the Lord, and in all lawful things. Husbands, love your wives — As yourselves, and as Christ loved the church: see Ephesians 5:25; Ephesians 5:28. And be not bitter — Harsh and rigorous, either in spirit, word, or deed; against them(Which may be the case without any manifest appearance of anger,)

but kind and obliging. Children, obey your parents — See on Ephesians 6:1; in all things — Namely, lawful; for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord — The Lord Christ, who, when he dwelt in flesh, was a constant example of filial piety, not only to his real mother, but to him who was only his supposed father, Luke 2:51. Fathers, provoke not your children — Deal not harshly or severely with them, so as to alienate their affections from you; lest they be discouraged — From attempting to please you, when it shall seem to be an impossible task. See on Ephesians 6:4. Rigorous treatment may also occasion their becoming stupid. Servants, obey in all things — That are lawful, 1 Peter 2:18; your masters according to the flesh — See on Ephesians 6:5 : Obey even their rigorous commands; not with eye-service — Being more attentive to their orders, and diligent, when under their eye, than at other times; as men- pleasers — As persons who are solicitous only to please men; but in singleness of heart — With a simple intention of pleasing God by doing right, without looking any further; fearing God — That is, acting from this principle. And whatsoever ye do — Whatever ye are employed in; do it heartily — Cheerfully, diligently; as to the Lord — Whose eye, you know, is upon you. Men-pleasers are soon dejected and made angry; the single- hearted are never displeased or disappointed, because they have another aim, which the good or evil treatment of those they serve cannot disappoint. Knowing that of the Lord (see on Ephesians 6:8) ye shall receive the reward, &c. — Be rewarded with the inheritance of eternal life. For ye serve the Lord Christ — Namely, in serving your masters according to his command. But he that doeth wrong — Whether master or servant; shall receive for the wrong, &c. — A just punishment. The greatness of the temptations to which rich men are exposed, by their opulence and high station, will be no excuse for their tyranny and oppression; and, on the other hand, the temptations which the insolence and severity of a tyrannical master hath laid in the way of his servant, will be no excuse for his idleness and unfaithfulness; and there is no respect of persons — With him: that is, in passing sentence, and distributing rewards and punishments, God does not consider men according to their outward condition, nation, descent, wealth, temporal dignity, &c, but only according to their spirit and conduct. “Though the word δουλος, here and elsewhere used by St. Paul, properly signifies a slave, our English translators, in all places, when the duties of slaves are inculcated, have justly translated it servant; because, anciently, the Greeks and Romans had scarce any servants but slaves, and because the duties of the hired servant, during the time of his service, are the same with those of the slave. So that what the apostle said to the slave, was in effect said to the hired servant. Upon these principles, in translations of the Scriptures designed for countries where slavery is abolished, and servants are free men, the word δουλος may with truth be translated a servant. In this, and the parallel passage, (Ephesians 6:5,) the apostle is very particular in his precepts to slaves and lords, because in all the countries where slavery was established, many of the slaves were exceedingly addicted to fraud, lying, and stealing; and many of the masters were tyrannical and cruel to their slaves.” — Macknight.

3:18-25 The epistles most taken up in displaying the glory of the Divine grace, and magnifying the Lord Jesus, are the most particular in pressing the duties of the Christian life. We must never separate the privileges and duties of the gospel. Submission is the duty of wives. But it is submission, not to a severe lord or stern tyrant, but to her own husband, who is engaged to affectionate duty. And husbands must love their wives with tender and faithful affection. Dutiful children are the most likely to prosper. And parents must be tender, as well as children obedient. Servants are to do their duty, and obey their masters' commands, in all things consistent with duty to God their heavenly Master. They must be both just and diligent; without selfish designs, or hypocrisy and disguise. Those who fear God, will be just and faithful when from under their master's eye, because they know they are under the eye of God. And do all with diligence, not idly and slothfully; cheerfully, not discontented at the providence of God which put them in that relation. And for servants' encouragement, let them know, that in serving their masters according to the command of Christ, they serve Christ, and he will give them a glorious reward at last. But, on the other hand, he who doeth wrong, shall receive for the wrong which he hath done. God will punish the unjust, as well as reward the faithful servant; and the same if masters wrong their servants. For the righteous Judge of the earth will deal justly between master and servant. Both will stand upon a level at his tribunal. How happy would true religion make the world, if it every where prevailed, influenced every state of things, and every relation of life! But the profession of those persons who are regardless of duties, and give just cause for complaint to those they are connected with, deceives themselves, as well as brings reproach on the gospel.Wives, submit yourselves ... - Notes on the parallel passage in Ephesians 5:21-24. 18. unto your own husbands—The oldest manuscripts omit "own," which crept in from Eph 5:22.

as it is fit in the Lord—Greek, "was fit," implying that there was at Colosse some degree of failure in fulfilling this duty, "as it was your duty to have done as disciples of the Lord."

The apostle, entering upon an exhortation to relative duties, begins first with that which wives owe to their husbands to whom they are married, by reason this relation is the first in nature, and the fountain whence the rest do flow, Genesis 2:22 Psalm 127:3 128:3 Proverbs 5:15,16. That which he requires is self-submission in every thing, see Ephesians 5:22, expressing a subjection with reverence, Ephesians 5:24,33 1 Peter 3:1. The God of order made the woman inferior, Genesis 2:18,22 3:16 1 Corinthians 11:7-9 1 Timothy 2:13 Titus 2:5; yet her submission is not to be servile, as that of a handmaid, but conjugal, as of a meet companion.

As it is fit in the Lord; suitable to God’s institution, in a becoming manner, agreeable to the mind of Christ, Acts 5:29 1 Peter 3:7.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands,.... The apostle proceeds from those duties which related to them as church members one towards another, for their mutual good and edification, and the glory of God, to such as concerned them in their own houses and families, as in a natural relation to each other; as husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants; showing hereby, that the Gospel does not at all break in upon, but establishes the duties of common and civil life. Concerning the duty wives to their husbands, here exhorted to; see Gill on Ephesians 5:22. The reason urging to a regard to it is,

as it is fit in the Lord; that is, Christ, as the Syriac version reads it. Subjection of wives to their own husbands is "fit" and proper in its own nature, by reason of the original creation of man, and of the woman from him: man was made first, and then the woman; and the woman was made out of the man, out of one of his ribs; and so, though not to be trampled under his feet, but to be by his side, and an help meet to him, yet not to be head, or to rule over him. Moreover, the woman was made for the man, and not the man for the woman; add to this, that the woman was in the transgression, and the means of the fall of man, which gave a fresh reason for, and made the obligation to subjection to him the stronger: and it is also a "decent" and becoming thing for wives to be subject to their husbands; for as it is giving honour to them, it is a real ornament to themselves, and is one of those good works which women professing godliness should adorn themselves with; and makes more comely and beautiful than broidered hair; gold, pearls, or costly array, yea, than their natural favour and beauty: it is what is fitting "in the Lord": it is what he requires, not only what the law of God requires, see 1 Corinthians 14:34 and which was enjoined originally, see Genesis 3:16 and was charged as a duty under the legal dispensation; but is what is commanded by Christ under the Gospel dispensation, and is to be observed by all those that are "in" him, that profess to be new creatures, converted persons, that so the word of God be not blasphemed, and the enemy have no occasion to reproach, see Titus 2:5 though this phrase may also be considered as a restriction and limitation of this subjection; that though it reaches to all things, yet only to such as are agreeable to the will of the Lord, and not contrary to the Gospel of Christ; for in these they are not to be subject to them, but to Christ the Lord; but in all other things they are, even as the church is subject to Christ: and when this is the case, such subjection is regarded by Christ as if it was done to himself; and indeed his honour and glory should be the governing view in it; see Ephesians 5:22.

{10} Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is {n} fit in the Lord.

(10) He goes from precepts which concern the whole civil life of man, to precepts pertaining to every man's family, and requires of wives subjection in the Lord.

(n) For those wives do poorly, that do not set God in Christ before them in their love; but this philosophy does not know.

Colossians 3:18 to Colossians 4:1.[164] Instructions for the different portions of the household. Why Paul should have given to the churches such a table of household rules only in this Epistle and in that to the Ephesians (comp. also 1 Tim. and Tit.), must be left wholly undecided (Chrysostom exhausts himself in conjectures). They are not polemical; but possibly, in the presence of a theosophico-ascetic atmosphere, the practical rules of healthy domestic life seemed to him the more seasonable. They do not contain traces of a later development of church-life (Holtzmann). The circumstance that the precepts for the several forms of domestic society uniformly (Colossians 3:18; Colossians 3:20; Colossians 3:22 ff.) begin with the subordinate party, as also at Ephesians 5:21 ff., is to be regarded as having occurred without any set purpose; the idea of obedience was primarily present to the writer’s mind. If Paul’s aim had been to counteract the abuse of Christian freedom and equality, or in other words, perverse desires for emancipation, he would not have considered so weighty a purpose sufficiently met by the mere mode of arrangement, but would have entered upon the matter itself (in opposition to Huther and de Wette); and this we should have to assume that he would have done also in the event of his having had in view an attitude of resistance on the part of those bound to obedience as the thing most to be feared (in opposition to Hofmann). Just as much might such an attitude be a thing to be feared from the stronger party. Respecting the nominatives in the address, see especially Stallbaum, ad Plat. Symp. p. 172 A.

ὡς ἀνῆκεν] not the perfect (with present signification), as Huther thinks and Bleek does not disapprove, but the imperfect, which has its logical reference in the ἐν κυρίῳ to be connected with it: as was fitting in the Lord, i.e. as was becoming in the relation of the ἐν Χριστῷ εἶναι (Philemon 1:8), as was appropriate to the Christian state, but had not yet been in this way realized. The imperfect (comp. Acts 22:22) denotes, therefore, as also in ΧΡῆΝ and ἜΔΕΙ, the incomplete condition, which extends even into the present. See Kühner, II. 1, p. 176 f.; Bernhardy, p. 373. Similarly, Winer, p. 254 [E. T. 338]. Comp. also Buttmann, p. 187 [E. T. 216]. We are not to think of an omission of ἌΝ; see Kühner, l.c. The connection of ἐν κυρίῳ with ὙΠΌΤΑΣΣΕΣΘΕ (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Estius, Rosenmüller, Hofmann, and others)—in which case Hofmann imparts into Ὡς ἈΝῆΚΕΝ the abstract idea: as was already in itself fitting—is opposed by the position of the words themselves, as well as by the parallel in Colossians 3:20 : εὐάρεστόν ἐστιν ἐν κυρίῳ.

[164] This domestic code is held by Holtzmann to be an insertion of the interpolator from Ephesians 5:21 to Ephesians 6:9. He groundlessly questions the genuineness of the expressions εὐάρεστος, ἀδικεῖν, ἐρεθίζειν, ἰδότης, τὸ δίκαιον, ἁπλότης τῆς καρδίας, and even appeals to the use of ἀνθρωπάρεσκος, ἀνταπόδοσις, and the formula τῷ κυρίῳ Χριστῷ δουλεύειν as direct evidence against its Pauline origin. Might not, however, the word ἀνθρωπάρεσκος have been sufficiently familiar to Paul from the LXX. (Psalm 53:5) and otherwise (Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 621), and have been used by him in the two parallel epistles? Is not ἀνταπόδοσις a term in general use since Thucydides? Is not “to serve the Lord Christ” a Pauline idea, and even (comp. Romans 16:18) literal expression? The danger of a petitio principii only too easily steals upon even the cautious and sober critic in such points of detail. He finds what he seeks.

Colossians 3:18. ἀνῆκεν has been taken as a perfect in sense of present (Luther, Bleek, Ol.), a view said by Winer to be “as unnecessary as it is grammatically inadmissible” (Winer-Moulton,9 p. 338). Usually it is taken as an imperfect, “as was fitting,” and is thought (but this is very dubious) to imply a reproach. Probably ἐν Κυρ. is to be joined to it, not to ὑποτ. (cf. Colossians 3:20).

Colossians 3:18 to Colossians 4:1. ENFORCEMENT OF THE RECIPROCAL DUTIES OF WIVES AND HUSBANDS, CHILDREN AND PARENTS, SLAVES AND MASTERS, WITH FREQUENT REFERENCE TO THESE DUTIES AS INVOLVED IN THEIR DUTY TO CHRIST.—In this section the reference to the subject precedes that to the ruling parties, and the duty of obedience is emphasised to prevent false inferences from the doctrine that natural distinctions are done away in Christ. Holtzmann, Oltramare and Weiss think these precepts are added in protest against the false teachers’ asceticism. The fact that we have similar, and fuller, injunctions in Ephesians tells against this. Ephesians 5:22 sq. and 1 Peter 3:6 may be compared.

18–4:1. Universal Holiness: relative duties

18. Wives] Cp. 1 Peter 3:1-6 and the close parallel, with its large expansion, Ephesians 5:22, &c.

The Christian Home, the masterpiece of living Christianity, is now presented as the special field for the practice of the holy principles just stated.

submit yourselves] with the noble loyalty of “the weaker vessel” to the husband who, in the order of nature (i.e. of God its Orderer), is the leader in the marriage union. No submission as of a vassal is meant; the man is (1 Peter 3:7) to “give honour to the wife.” Her relative attitude is to be that of every Christian to every other (Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 5:5), the attitude of unselfish service, only emphasized by the special fact of man’s ordained leadership.

own] The word is probably to be omitted; a natural and obvious gloss upon the text.—Cp. 1 Corinthians 7:2 for the apostolic prohibition of polygamy.

fit in the Lord] The order of nature is thus affirmed by grace. Wifely loyalty is not only a human but a Christian law; it has relation to union with Christ. See at large Ephesians 5:22-24.

Is fit:—lit., “was fit.” Lightfoot compares our past tense in “I ought,” and says that in such phrases is perhaps implied an essential a priori obligation.

Colossians 3:18 to Colossians 4:1. Αἱ γυναῖκες, κ.τ.λ., wives, etc.) Ephesians 5:22 to Ephesians 6:9.—ἐν Κυρίῳ, in the Lord) These words are construed with ὑποτάσσεσθε, submit yourselves; comp. Ephesians 6:1 : or else with ὡς ἀνῆκεν, as it is fit; comp. in this view Colossians 3:20, unless ὑπακούετε, obey, Colossians 3:20, be there likewise construed with ἐν Κυρίῳ. It may be construed either way.

Verse 18 - Colossians 4:1. - SECTION VIII. THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF FAMILY DUTIES. We note that in each of the three family relations here dealt with, the subordinate party is first addressed, and the duty of submission is primarily insisted upon (vers. 18, 20, 22: comp. 1 Peter 2:13, 18; 1 Peter 3:1-6). So in Ephesians 5:21-24; Ephesians 6:1-3, 5-8. There may have been some special reason for this in the state of the Asiatic Churches or of Greek society in that region. But other indications show (1 Corinthians 7:24; 1 Corinthians 11:3-16; 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35; Galatians 5:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:11, 12; 1 Timothy 2:11, 12; 1 Timothy 6:1, 2; Titus 2:5, 9, 10; Titus 3:1) that the apostle perceived and sought to check the danger of unsettlement in the natural order of family and social life which often attends great spiritual revolutions, especially when they are in the direction of religious liberty. As in the case of Luther, the apostle's later teaching is largely directed against the antinomianism which resulted, by way of perversion and abuse, from the preaching of salvation by grace and of the sanctity of the individual believer (comp. introductory note to this chapter). Observe how the Lord and his authority are made to furnish a higher sanction for each of these natural duties. Verse 18. - Ye wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as is fit in the Lord (Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Timothy 2:11-15; Titus 2:5; 1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35; 1 Peter 3:1-6; Genesis 3:16). On this duty the apostle dilates in the Ephesian letter, in illustration of its teaching respecting "Christ and the Church" (comp. the very different treatment of it in 1 Peter 3:1-7), The use of the article (αἱ γύναικες) in the nominative of address is frequent in New Testament, though not in classical Greek. Lightfoot thinks it Hebraistic. Ανηκεν stands in the imperfect tense (literally, it was fit), denoting a normal propriety (comp. Ephesians 5:4, Westcott and Hort; and for the general expression, 1 Corinthians 11:13, 14; Philemon 1:8; Ephesians 5:3; 1 Timothy 2:10; Philippians 4:8; Romans 1:29). Like all men of a sound moral nature, St Paul has a strong sense of natural propriety. The adjunct "in the Lord" belongs to "was fit," not "be subject" (comp. ver. 20). The constitution of nature, as we have learnt in Colossians 1:15-18, is grounded "in the Lord." In Ephesians 5:22-33 St. Paul shows that this inherent propriety has a deep spiritual significance; and he makes the subjection of the Church to her heavenly Lord a new reason for wifely submission. Colossians 3:18Wives, etc.

Compare the parallel passages, Ephesians 5:22-6:9. See also 1 Peter 2:18-3:7; Titus 2:1-5.

Is fit (ἀνῆκεν)

See on Plm 1:8. The imperfect tense, was fitting, or became fitting, points to the time of their entrance upon the christian life. Not necessarily presupposing that the duty remained unperformed. Lightfoot illustrates by ought, the past tense of owed, and says, "the past tense perhaps implies an essential a priori obligation."

In the Lord

Connect with is fitting, and compare well-pleasing in the Lord, Colossians 3:20.

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