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 Callan’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 2, 2011

A Summary of Colossians 3:1-4:6

In the Moral Part of the Epistle to the Colossians St. Paul, arguing from the principles he has laid down in the Dogmatic Part, takes up the duties of the Christian life in general, showing what life in union with the Risen Lord demands, first in a negative and then in a positive way (Col 3:1-17). Next he treats of relative duties, pertinent to particular states (Col 3:18-4:1), concluding with some precepts addressed to all Christians (Col 4:2-6).

A Summary of Colossians 3:1-17

After having directly attacked the errors of the pseudodoctors and shown their baneful and futile consequences (Col 2:8-23), the Apostle now returns to the positive teaching of Col 2:6, 7, pointing out that Christians share in the risen life of their Lord, and that consequently new and higher motives should dominate their activities. Being dead to the lower things, they are now centred in Christ, and will appear with Him hereafter in glory (Col 3:1-4). This new life requires in a negative way a breaking with all the sins of their pagan past (Col 3:5-9), and on its positive and practical side an ever fuller growing into the likeness of Christ, and into a state where Christ is supreme for all mankind (Col 3:10-11). Moreover, this new life involves a practice of those virtues which Christ’s example has taught, especially charity, which is the bond of perfection, and unity, which couples the members of the Christian society with their divine Head. May the message of Christ be fruitful in them, making itself vibrant in their hearts and vocal in their music! All their undertakings must be performed in their Master’s name, and thus they will be rendering continual thanks to God the Father who has conferred all blessings on us through Christ (Col 3:12-17).

12. Put ye on therefore, as the elect of God, holy, and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience:
13. Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another : even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also.
14. But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection:

St. Paul has given just above a short list of sins illustrative of those to which the Christian has died; and now (Col 3:12-17) he will mention some of the typical virtues which should characterize the life of grace. Since Christians are the chosen people of God and the recipients of His special graces and favors, they ought to manifest in their lives those virtues which are in keeping with their privileged state.

Bowels of mercy (verse 12), a Hebrew expression, means tenderness of heart, sentiments of compassion.

Charity (verse 14) is the queen of virtues, the silver cord which binds all the
others together, and without which every other virtue is imperfect. See on Eph 4:2, 32 ; 1 Cor 13. Father Callan’s commentary on 1 Cor 13 can be found here.

The habete of the Vulgate before “charity” is not expressed in
the Greek (of verse 14), but some verb, like have or put on, is understood.

15. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be ye thankful.

See on Eph 2:11-22, 4:1-6. Father Callan’s commentary on Eph 2:11-22 can be found here. His commentary on Eph 4:1-6 is here.

Rule in your hearts. The Greek for “rule” here means a moderator, or an umpire in an athletic game. In place of exultet, the Vulgate should have regnet.

And be ye thankful, for the many divine benefits and graces of your vocation. Perhaps “grateful” would be a better word than “thankful” here.

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

Word of Christ, i.e., the message of the Gospel. The more
the teachings of Christ penetrate the heart, the more will charity,
peace, and gratitude abound among the faithful. The phrase “in
all wisdom” more probably goes with what follows, and hence there
should be no comma after sapientia in the Vulgate.

Admonishing, etc. See on Eph 5:19. Commentary here.

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

Christians by their Baptism and consecration to God have become the property of their divine Master, they are one with Him ; and consequently all they do and say should be in conformity with this holy relationship. This is the way to render continual thanks to God the Father.

2 Responses to “Father Callan’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-17”

  1. […] Father Callan on Colossians 3:12-17 for Sunday Mass, Feb 6, (Extraordinary Form, 5th Sunday After Ep…. 12:20 AM EST. […]

  2. […] Father Callan’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-17. […]

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