The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Bernadin de Piconio’s Commentary on Colossians 3:8-5

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 22, 2010

8. But now do you lay aside also all: anger, indignation, malice, blasphemy, filthy language from your mouth.

Not only those graver sins in which you no longer live, are to be laid aside, but also minor faults against God and your neighbour, anger, malice, and violent and unseemly language.

9. Do not lie one to another, stripping yourselves of the old man with his deeds.
10. And putting on the new, him who is renewed to knowledge, according to the image of him who created him.

See the note on Eph 4:31, and that on Eph 4:22, 24, as to the distinction drawn by the Apostle between the old and the new man. The Greek (at the end of 9) has, now that you have put off the old man, (at the beginning of 10) and put on the new, that is, in your Christian profession. For as the faults and vices of the pagan life are the result and outcome of the influence of the evil spirit which dwells within the heart, so the graces of the Christian life will, if encouraged, grow from the presence of Christ within the soul. But, as the reading of the Vulgate would imply, the old tendencies, having still their root in human nature, and possibly in habit, will still have to be repressed, and the Christian life daily renewed and carefully cultivated. The new man is renewed, according to the Syriac, through knowledge, according to the likeness of Him who made him. By learning more and more of the character of God, through communion with Him, the Christian grows into his likeness. The Greek and the Vulgate read renewed into knowledge, advances continually in the knowledge of God, and consequently in his likeness.

11. There is not Gentile and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, Barbarian and Scythian, slave and free, but all and in all Christ.

This likeness of God is the perfection of man’s nature, not following any special or particular type, or nationality, or class; its model or pattern is not Gentile or Jew, Greek or barbarian, civilised or savage, slave or free ; but wholly Christ, and Christ in all. The mention of Scythians suggests the possibility that, as it is known that these people had formerly invaded Western Asia, there may have been traces or traditions of a colony of them in Phrygia.
12. Put you on, therefore, as elect of God holy and beloved bowels of mercy, kindness, humility, modesty, patience;
13. Bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if any against any has complaint; as the Lord forgave you, so also do you.

(12) Your real nationality, whatever it was originally, and your real state and condition, whatever it may be by the provisions of human law, is now the elect people of God, holy, and beloved of God, of angels, and of saints. Therefore put on, or exhibit in your life and conversation, the characteristics of this condition, mercy and kindliness, humility and patience, bearing with and forgiving the faults and imperfections of one another (13), since you have so many of your own. Forgive, as the Lord (the Greek has, Christ) forgave you.

14. But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection,

Above all, have charity. The Greek has no verb, supplying put on from the previous sentence. Above all, because it is the highest grace. Charity is the love of God, and of man for God’s sake, and this is the highest motive for affection, for kindness, and well doing. The bond of perfection is a Hebraism for the most perfect bond, that which binds the souls of men together by the noblest and truest bond, the relation they bear to their Creator. And let the peace of Christ exult in your hearts.

15. And let the peace of Christ exult in your hearts, in which also you were called in one body: and be grateful.

The Greek verb (βραβευετω) might either mean, as the Vulgate understands it, carry off the prize of victory, be victorious over anger, or dissension, or cupidity, or pride. Or it may mean, adjudge the prize of victory, that is, preside, moderate, and rule. And if between you there arise controversy or difference, let the peace of Christ, not anger, or pride, or passorr, determine it. In this sense the word is understood by Saint Chrysostom and Theodoret, and this is the sense of the Syriac: Let the peace of Christ govern your hearts. For you all form one body, and the portions of one and the same body do not fight one with another. In peace, therefore, you are called. And be grateful, in the Syriac, give thanks to God. Saint Jerome, however, as quoted by Erasmus, understands it gracious, amiable, kind and easy, for this contributes to peace.

16. Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, in grace singing in your hearts to God.

Let the word of Christ, that is the teaching of Christ, which you have received from Epaphras and other instructors, dwell in your minds and hearts habitually and abundantly  so as to make you rich in all wisdom, often speaking of it to one another. The words with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs may perhaps be more fitly taken with the participle cantantes (singing) which follows them. For the distinction between these see on Eph 5:19, 20. Singing in grace, that is, in thanksgiving, or otherwise, with sweetness, care, and correctness, so as to give pleasure to yourselves and those who hear you. In your hearts, that is, with your hearts, heartily, sincerely, not with the voice only, and the heart not in harmony with what you sing.

17. All you do in word or work, all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to the God and Father through him.

In all you say or do, in word or work, invoke the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, not the names of angels, like the followers of Simon; and through him, and not through angels, give thanks to God the Father. So Theodoret and Saint Chrysostom understand it. Saint Thomas says that the precept is also to be taken in a directly affirmative sense, but that to fulfil it, it is not necessary that everything should be formally and in act referred to God, but in the habit of the mind, and is satisfied when our words and deeds are such as to promote God’s glory. Whoever acts or speaks against the glory or the commands of God, acts in opposition to this precept of the Apostle. The perfection of charity is when all things are actually, or at least effectually, referred to God’s glory in the name and power of Christ. For then all we do will be God,s praise, and pious and meritorious in his sight. Do all through Christ, as your mediator and pontiff; with Christ, as your head; in Christ, in his spirit, motive, and intention.

18. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fit in the Lord.
19. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter towards them.
20. Sons, obey your parents through all ; for this is pleasing to the Lord.
21. Fathers, do not provoke your sons to indignation, that they become not pusillanimous.
22. Slaves, obey through all your carnal masters, not serving to the eye, as pleasing men, but in simplicity of heart, fearing God.
23. Whatever you do, work heartily, as to the Lord, and
not to men:
24. Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the retribution of the inheritance. Serve the Lord Christ.
25. For who does wrong will receive that which he has done unjustly; and there is not acceptance of persons with God.

These injunctions are almost verbally the same as those given in the Epistle to the Ephesians 5:22—6:9, but more pointedly and briefly expressed. They were rendered necessary by the doctrine of the heretics, who represented Jesus Christ as an opponent of the Creator of the world and God of the Old Testament, from whose dominion, as they pi’etended, he came to deliver mankind. The Apostle, in effect, maintains that as Christ came, not to do away with the law of Moses, nor yet to re-enact it, but to fulfil it and present the reality of which it was a symbol and a shadow, so he came not to abrogate and unsettle the constitutions of nature and society, which he has himself ordained for the guidance of mankind in this mortal life, and which were preserved in tradition, more or less perfectly, from the beginning of the world, by all nations of men; but to preserve them, while giving to them a fuller explanation and a higher meaning.

(18) As is fit in the Lord, so far as the law of Christ permits. Love your wives, and be not bitter to them, be indulgent to their faults or imperfections, recognising all they endeavour to do well.  (19-20) Obey your parents through all, in all respects, and through all apparent discouragement, for the obedience itself is pleasing to the Lord, who set the example of it in his own early life at Nazareth. (21) Fathers, provoke not your children, lest they be discouraged in God’s service, or lose confidence in the benevolence and goodwill of their seniors. Slaves are reminded in verse 25 that the master who ill-treats them, as a pagan master possibly might, will have to answer to the Great Judge at the last day, who will render to them the same usage they have dealt out to those now in their power. Human laws may give you no redress, but who does wrong will receive that which he has done, and before that Judge all are equal. They should not, therefore, seek revenge, but rather pray for the unjust master’s conversion and salvation.

2 Responses to “Father Bernadin de Piconio’s Commentary on Colossians 3:8-5”

  1. […] Bernardin de Piconio on Colossians 3:12-21. […]

  2. […] Bernardin de Piconio on Colossians 3:12-21. […]

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