A Study of Colossians 3:15–17
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him. (Colossians 3:15–17)
Since we who believe and are saved are baptized into Christ, we are baptized into His death. Since Christ is risen from the dead, and we are in Him, we are raised to walk in newness of life. Since we have put on, as an act of the will, the new man, where Christ is all in all, there is also a new way of life. We are under “new management”.
The ruling power in us, in our hearts, is the peace of God. Notice that this “rule” is a passive rule, which depends on whether the body lets it. This is characteristic of the rule of God in the day in which we live. This is an individual as well as a group rule. The rule of the peace of God is not the ruling tyrant that sin was. And when the peace of God is ruling in the life of the Christian, and in the Body, it is noticed.
An interesting thought in this—Paul lived during a time in history known as the “Pax Romana”—the “Roman Peace”—which was ruling over the Mediterranean world. This was the world that both Paul and the Colossian reader’s knew. The Latin Bible known as the Vulgate translates this verse as follows:
et pax Christi exultet in cordibus vestris in qua et vocati estis in uno corpore et grati estote
It is obviously from a different (corrupt) Greek text that would read the “peace of Christ” rather than the peace of God, but you see that in this verse, rather than the “Roman peace” ruling, it is the peace of God. Now the “peace of Rome” was kept that way in much the same way that “peacekeeping missions” are kept today: with an army. Indeed, our cities in the nations of the world today have police officers to “keep the peace”. But the peace of God is not kept with an army. The peace of God can rule in the heart of the believer in the midst of the greatest of chaos. We can only imagine what the people of the time really thought about the “peace of Rome”, with its gladiator fights and standing armies in every city. But the peace of God rules as the believer yields to the Lord:
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God [pax Dei], which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
The Christian who is living yielded to the Holy Spirit of God, can truly live under a different rulership than the system that is ruling the world. Not that we are contrary or rebellious to our governments, but that rather than being tossed about with all that is going on in the world around us—relationally, politically, socially, financially, economically, etc.—we can find stability in the peace of God. During the kingdom reign of our Lord Jesus, the promise is true:
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength… (Isaiah 26:3-4)
Perfect peace will be the rule of the day during the day when the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, but that promise was made to a people anticipating the future reign, so we, just as they, can enjoy the peace of God while our minds are stayed on Him.
To begin enjoying the peace of God starts with thanksgiving: “And be ye thankful”. How all of us, myself included, fail to avail ourselves and enjoy the peace of God because we lack gratitude. Sure, in our minds we are thankful, but often our attitudes are anything but thankful. This is where we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), and have our will and emotions get into agreement with what our minds know to be true. Then we will have the attitude of thankfulness that should always be the attitude of the people of God. We can always find a reason to be thankful, because we can enjoy the rule of the peace of God, because in Christ we have peace with God.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By Whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)
This peace was made when Christ reconciled us to God and made peace by the blood of His cross.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:10-11)
And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:20)
So this peace of God is ours to enjoy, so we can start with a thankful attitude. We continue to enjoy this peace of God by “letting the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly” (vs. 16). Now it will never dwell in us richly if we do not take it in by careful reading and diligent study meditating on the Scriptures.
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (Psalm 1:1-3)
In the above Psalm, we learn the wisdom of meditating on the law of the LORD. As is true in the Psalmist’s day, it is true in ours. God’s word to him was given by Moses in the law, and true wisdom is found in obeying God’s word to us. As “the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17), so Jesus Christ gave to Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, the dispensation of grace to reveal it to the body of Christ. True wisdom today will learn the mystery of God revealed through Paul to us.
There is no substitute for the written word of God in our lives and on our minds. That which God has to say to us is of the greatest value to us, so we should “reckon” that to be true by more than just saying it, but by getting into the word to hear what He has to say to us.
Now as we let the word of Christ dwell in us, we have the key to true wisdom. Remember in chapter 2 that we learned this of Christ:
…all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:2-3)
All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in Christ, so it follows that any worthwhile wisdom to be found is in Him. This follows logically, but logic is not our authority. It follows scripturally. The wisest of men apart from God cannot understand the things of God, and therefore lack true wisdom. The Athenians were famous for their philosophers (“wisdom lovers”), but when God’s apostle visited Athens, the commentary from God’s writer Luke speaks of them like this:
For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing. (Acts 17:21)
The wisdom of this world is always looking for a new answer to the issues and problems of this world, the key to happiness, or some similar need. The wisdom of this world, however, is blind to the things that the simplest of believers can accept and appropriate by faith. Indeed, the wisdom of the world could not figure out our Lord Jesus Christ. But in Christ we have all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. In Christ we are taught by the Holy Spirit the things that only the Spirit of God can know.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:13-16)
With the word of Christ dwelling in us in all wisdom, we share it with each other. That is the thought present when the apostle speaks of “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs”. That is the purpose of our singing. Our singing is not primarily to showcase our talent. A single voice with grace in the heart singing to the Lord will teach those listening, especially while they are listening to the word of Christ being sung. The greatest of worldly talent has no greater chance of reaching this or any other generation than a single humble voice singing to the Lord. We don’t sing from the abundance of our talent, but from the grace in our hearts to the Lord.
If you would like to know “the peace of God that passeth all understanding”, you also may, for from God’s point of view, the Lord Jesus Christ has reconciled the world unto Himself, and He is not holding your sins against you right now. All that is standing in the way of peace with God is for you to believe—accept by faith the death that our Lord Jesus died in your place for your sins and believe in your RISEN SAVIOR, and the scripture says that you are justified by faith and HAVE PEACE WITH GOD and can enjoy the PEACE OF GOD.