Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | January 11, 2007

Colossians – Part 18

What is the Gospel?  Do you know what it is?   

Colossians – Part 18: Family Life 

1.  What does Paul say the believer has been transferred to?  By whom?

2.  How were the Colossians being defrauded?

Holiness in Family Life (Ch 3:18-21):  Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.  20 Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.  21 Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.  (Verses from the original Greek are attached for reference)

After providing instructions to the individual on how the new self should interact with others, Paul now provides instructions to the family.  The family as a whole is made of up individuals who fulfill different roles in order to function properly.  Beginning with husbands and wives, he defines the roles of the married couple consistent with other letters he has written (Ephesians 5:22-33 and Titus 2:3-5).  Husbands and wives who enter into the marriage covenant are now one (Matthew 19:4-6; 1 Peter 3:7).  Thus, they are equal in honor and value both bearing the image of God.  However, just as the Persons of the Trinity are one, they also fulfill different roles within the covenant they bear together.  Paul commands, in the imperative (Greek verb mood), wives to be subject or submissive to their husbands who are God’s ordained head of the family (1 Corinthians 11:3).  Husbands bear the responsibility of being the physical and spiritual head of the family and will be held accountable by God on how they fulfill this function.  This does not make the wife inferior to the husband, and husbands should not abuse this position.  Paul commands, in the imperative, husbands to love their wives.  In another letter (Ephesians 5:25), he says this love should be in the same manner as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.  Paul commands, in the imperative, children to obey their parents, which is essentially a restating of the fifth commandment.  As the head of the covenant family, husbands have the primary responsibility for disciplining their children when they do wrong.  However, this discipline should not be done with malcontent or in an abusive manner that causes children to be utterly discouraged.

The Colossian false teachers were promoting beliefs that devalued physical and earthly aspects of life.  This would include in many instances the denial of men and women to enter into marriage.  Since things in the material world were seen as polluted or evil in and of themselves, marriage and child bearing were seen as unholy or unclean.  At the beginning of Chapter 3, Paul instructed the believers to set their minds on things above.  However, we see here that marriage and family life are not excluded for the believer because of this admonition.  Paul’s inclusion of instructions to the family also embraces marriage and child rearing as things that God has ordained not to be denied or seen as polluted.  Marriage and child rearing are noble and sacred vocations in thekingdom of God here on earth, which should be taken seriously.  Each family member has a distinct role to fulfill and when these roles are performed in accordance with the Scripture, it is a beautiful and God honoring thing.   

3.  Why does Paul include these instructions? 4.  What did the Colossian false teachers think of the family? 

5.  Are Christians allowed to get married? Are you less of a Christian if you do or don’t?

6.  Who should a Christian marry?  

7.  Are husbands and wives equal?  Are their roles the same?

8.  What is the role of wives? (1 Peter 3:1-8) How does she do this?

9.  What is the role of husbands? (Ephesians 5:25) How does he do this?

10. Does our culture still take marriage seriously?

11. How does the culture view divorce now? (Malachi 2:16) 

Wives, be subject:  “He requires love on the part of husbands, and that they be not bitter, because there is a danger lest they should abuse their authority in the way of tyranny.  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians. 

12.  What is the fifth commandment?

13.  Should Christians discipline their children if they disobey?  Proverbs 13:24

14.  How should parents train up their children? Proverbs 22:6

15.  How do should we accomplish this?

16.  Does the media accurately portray these roles in the marriage/family?  How do they portray it? 

Children obey your parents: “But, on the other hand, this one thing ought to be considered by children – that whoever may be their parents, they have been allotted to them by the providence of God, who by his appointment makes children subject to their parents…in all things, that they may not put themselves on a footing of equality with their parents, in the way of questioning and debating, or disputing, it being always understood that conscience is not to be infringed upon.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 

Answers to Colossians Part 18: 

  1. In chapter 1:13-14, Paul says that we’ve been transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of the beloved Son.  It is in Him we have redemption and forgiveness of sins.  This is a summarization of the Gospel, the good news.
  2. The Colossians were being defrauded by those who were instructing them that Christ was not strong enough or good enough to save them.  As a result, they had to do it on their own in order to be made right with God.  However, Paul in chapter 2:16-19 tells them not to be defrauded by this false teaching.  Those man-made things were mere shadows of what Christ had already fully accomplished.
  3. Paul gives these instructions to help families to know their roles and how they should interact with one another.  It appears that it was also to confirm that marriage and child rearing were not evil things, but holy and worthy of the Christian life.  This was to disprove the false teacher’s claims that all matter or physical things were evil. 
  4. There view of spirituality forbade them from earthly things such as marriage and family.  They sought holiness solely in spiritual disciplines, such as fasting, retreat from the world, chastity, etc.  All of these efforts, however, had the goal of obtaining a closer spiritual unity with God.  However, our spiritual union was achieved through Christ and His work not our efforts.
  5. Yes, Christian are allowed to get married.  They are also allowed to stay single.  You are not less of a Christian whatever you decide.  1 Corinthians 7 spells this out in detail.
  6. A Christian should only marry another Christian of the opposite sex.  Proverbs 31 provides qualifications for a wife.
  7. Yes, they are equal.  However, they possess different roles.
  8. The role of the wife is to submit to her husbands as if she were submitting to the Lord.
  9. The role of the husband is to love his wife as Christ has loved the Church and given Himself up for her.
  10. Not really. The rise of Co-habitation is a direct result our cultures nonchalant view of marriage.
  11. In many instances divorces are easy to obtain than it is to do ones taxes.
  12. The fifth commandment is for children to “honor their father and mother”.
  13. Yes, Christians need to discipline their children.  Proverbs says that if you don’t then you don’t love them.
  14. Parents should raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
  15. They do this by taking them to Church, which is where the Word is preached, teaching them the faith, reading the Scriptures and being good examples to them.
  16. If the parents are not divorced, the media usually portrays fathers as stumbling goofballs, mothers really run the family and the children are much smarter than the parents.  This is evident on many of the sitcoms and even cartoons on Nickolodeon or Disney.
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