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 MacEvilly’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 2, 2013

To provide context this post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of Colossians chapter 3. Text in purple indicates Fr. MacEvilly’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.


The Apostle had made a twofold assertion in verses 12 and 13 of the preceding chapter, viz., that the Colossians were buried with Christ in baptism, and had also risen with him. This twofold assertion he makes the ground of a twofold conclusion. Having already pointed out the conclusion to be drawn from their death in baptism from verse 20 of preceding chapter, he points out in this, the moral conclusion to be drawn from their spiritual resurrection, viz., that they should devote their entire thoughts to the things of heaven, and despise the things of earth (1, 2). They should despise earthly things, because dead to them, and love heavenly things, because raised to a heavenly life (3). He points out the glory which is to be the reward of this life of sanctity (4). In order to secure this heavenly glory, they should, therefore, mortify all the members of the old man of sin, all the vicious inclinations of the flesh, the heart, or the tongue, in one word, they should strip themselves of the old man with his deeds (5–9).

They should, after putting off the old man, put on the new with all his virtues, which relates to God, their neighbour, and themselves. With reference to God, they should conform to his image, by being renewed in the knowledge and love of him, in which spiritual renovation there is no distinction whatever of persons, or, conditions in life recognised by the Lord (10, 11). With reference to their neighbour, they should exhibit the new man in the most tender feelings of mercy—in bearing with his infirmities, in pardoning offences, and above all, in cultivating charity and peace (12–15). With reference to the duties they owed themselves, they should, by sedulous attention to the word of God, fill their minds with true wisdom; they should express their inward joy and preserve spiritual unction, by piously singing canticles and spiritual songs, rendering thanks to God, and referring all their actions to his glory through Christ (15, 16, 17).

He concludes by pointing out to several parties—viz., wives, children, and slaves, the duties of obedience which devolve upon them; while on husbands, parents, and masters, he enjoins also their correlative and reciprocal obligations.

Col 3:12  Put ye on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience:

Wherefore, as men elected by God, sanctified by Christ, and loved by him from eternity—put on the most lively feelings of compassion for your brethren, gentleness and sweetness of disposition, humility, modesty, patience.

As Christ alone is to be considered in this new man, the Apostle shows the duties they owe each other, and the acts of the new man whom he wishes them to put on. “The bowels,” i.e., the most tender feelings “of mercy.” In Greek, of mercies. The Vulgate is, however, generally adopted by critics.

Col 3:13  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.

Bearing with each other’s weakness and imperfections, pardoning and remitting to each other the injuries which you may have mutually to sustain, after the example of God, who has pardoned us our manifold sins and transgressions against him. Bishop MacEvilly offers no comment on this verse beyond the thoughts supplied by his paraphrase.

Col 3:14  But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection.

But above all things, have charity or love for one another, which is the most perfect bond of union.

“Which is the bond of perfection,” i.e., the most perfect bond of union. All other bonds of human society are imperfect and easily broken by the slightest provocation; charity is eternal and indissoluble.

Col 3:15  And let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be ye thankful.

And may the peace of God, to which you were called, when you became one body, victoriously exult in your hearts, and be ye grateful for the past benefits of God.

“Of Christ.” In Greek, of God. “Rejoice.” The Greek word for which, βραβευέτω, means either to gain the prize of victory, or to award it; in the former acceptation, it refers to the persons engaged in the contest; in the latter, to the judges, who are to decide the struggle and award the prize. Here, then, according to this twofold acceptation, the words may mean:—May the peace which Christ brought from heaven, and to which the unity of the Church, of which we are members, obliges us, obtain the victory over all the adverse passions in your hearts. This is the more probable meaning. They may also mean: In all your differences may the decision be, not according to the dictates of passion, but of the peace of God. “Be ye thankful,” besides the meaning in the Paraphrase, may also mean, according to some Expositors—Be ye kind, courteous, and civil to one another; as this contributes much to peace. The Greek word, εὐχάριστοι, will admit this latter meaning, which also accords with the context.

Col 3:16  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.

Let the doctrine of Christ permanently reside in you, so as that you may be filled with the abundance of all spiritual wisdom, teaching and instructing each other in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing the praises of God with joyous and grateful hearts.

He says that the doctrine and gospel of Christ should be engraved on our hearts, so as to dwell there and fill us with the abundance of true wisdom, which we may dispense to others. Hence, the word of God is to be read, not with hurry or precipitancy, but with reflection and meditation on its sacred truths, so as that it may “dwell” in us, and not rarely, but frequently, “abundantly.” Would to God, the meditation on the SS. Scriptures was substituted in place of those light and frivolous works of fancy, which poison and corrupt the mind! “Teaching … in Psalms,” &c. See Epistle to the Ephesians 5:19-20. “Singing in grace,” may either mean with thanksgiving, or in an agreeable, pleasing manner, so as to excite feelings of devotion “in your hearts.” In Greek, in your heart.

Col 3:17  All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Direct all your words and actions to the glory of God, invoking the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and rendering thanks to God the Father through him.

To God.” In Greek, to the Lord. This verse contains a negative precept prohibiting us from offering our actions to God through angels, according to the corrupt notions of the heretics, who prefer them to Christ, as has been already explained, or from giving thanks through them, and indirectly commanding us to do so through Christ. He is the meritorious cause of the benefits which we enjoy, and through Him thanks should be given; it also contains a positive precept of referring our actions, occasionally, by a direct intention to God. The practice of referring them as frequently as possible is very commendable. For the rest—see 1 Cor 10:31.


One Response to “Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-17”

  1. […] Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Colossians 3:12-17. […]

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