Bible Study

Restoring God’s design (Colossians 3:18–4:1)


In the previous lesson, we studied how we are called to put on our new nature. Called to have new priorities in our life, and that these should be reflected in our actions and attitudes. This time in Colossians 3 we will focus on restoring God’s design.

Let us remember that Paul writes to the Colossians, exhorting them not to be deceived by those who tell them that they have to comply with some rites or abstain from some particular things. He’s also reminding them of the great sacrifice that we have received in Christ and how in response to that sacrifice we die to our delights and live to do everything as for the Lord.

In chapter 3 verses from 18 to 25, we will see specific examples of how those of us who have risen with Christ should behave in the different areas and roles of our lives. Clothing ourselves with tender compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience (Colossians 3:12) will lead us to be able to fulfill these roles according to God’s design and doing everything for His Glory.

Before diving into the passage; I want to mention some details: Paul does not mention all the possible cases in human relationships, he mentions categories and in each of those categories there has certainly been, and we continue to see and experience, the abuse of authority. 

However, being new creatures, we can no longer continue to live as the world does, governed by our delights. We have already died to them, we have risen to a new life, we have a new goal that is the restoration of God’s design.

Gloria Furman comments in the book Raised Together, “We cannot live against the future of our hope.” In our new life as resurrected in Christ, we must live as close as possible to God’s first design, and this is what Paul is referring to in this section. 

We see a group of people and an exhortation to exercise their roles in ways that honor the Lord. We could go into more details of each of these roles, but we will only take a brief look at them.

Women… (v. 18)

The exhortation to women is to submit to their husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. As we mentioned before, usually when we hear this exhortation, we are quick to think about all the abuses that this has brought. 

But what strikes me the most is that it tells us that we must do it because it is convenient for us, it will be beneficial for us because it is God’s design. Some English versions, use the word “fitting” that we use to refer to when we try on a piece of clothing, and it fits us perfectly; comfortable and makes us look good. 

This is how our renewed vision of submission should be, when we are new creatures seeking to be clothed in the new nature; submission is good for us, it is well-fitted to our original designs, it doesn’t make us less or weak, it suits us.

Restoring God's design (Colossians 3:18–4:1) 6

Husbands… (v. 19)

Husbands are called to love their wives sacrificially, let us remember how in the letter to the Ephesians Paul compares the marriage relationship with the relationship between Christ and the Church. 

Husbands have this responsibility, and it is in this way that they please the Lord, while giving themselves up sacrificially for their wives. 

It reminds them that roughness is not the way to communicate, but that they have to be clothed with tenderness, compassion, kindness, etc. as I had mentioned before to be equipped to do this. 

Children… (v. 20)

He exhorts the children in the stage they are in to be obedient to their parents, again because this pleases the Lord. Remembering that this has been an established commandment, we must continue to follow it in our restored lives.

Parents… (v. 21)

While we as parents must take care not to exasperate our children. This doesn’t imply that we cannot apply discipline to our kids, but that we must be careful in the way we treat them so that they do not become discouraged in their relationship with the Lord. 

As believers, the way we live our lives and behave with our kids should be unified so that they are drawn closer to the Lord, not the other way around. 

Servants… (v. 22-25)

He exhorts the hard-working servants to do everything they do with fear of the Lord. Reminding them that, although they have to serve their masters, their final inheritance and their justice do not come from the lords they have on this earth, but from Christ.

It reminds them and us that being under authority, there will be an experience of evil and injustice. But we must hold to the hope that every wrongdoing on this side of eternity will have its consequences, sometimes in the present time and if not on the final day.

Decorative Text of Colossians 3 verse 24 “You are serving the Lord Christ”
Restoring God's design (Colossians 3:18–4:1) 7

Masters… (Colossians 4:1)

Those in authority must seek to be fair and just, not to be considered good masters, but because they themselves answer to the Lord who has more authority than they can have here on earth.

Final Thoughts on Colossians 3

If you want to study in more depth the implications of our new life in terms of our roles and relationships, you can study a passage similar to this one in Ephesians 5 and 6. 

To conclude, I would like to emphasize the following: on this side of eternity, our goal is to restore God’s design and execute it to the best of our ability according to his power. We will not reach perfection, but we must try to get closer every day to that design.

We must remember that just as I am struggling to live by this design, my husband is struggling to do his part; My boss, if he is a believer, is also fighting for this, and we all have a long way to go.

If our relationships are with people who have not yet been born again, who have not been raised in Christ, we cannot expect them to want to live or even try to live according to this design. 

The principle that Paul shares is that as believers we must try to live according to our new nature, against the culture of the fallen world and above all that our actions please and honor the Lord. 

Our standard to weigh our actions should be this: Do these actions honor the Lord and his design in creation?

Thanks again for joining me on this Bible Study, next time we will continue to discuss chapter 4 in which we will be encouraged by the examples from the lives of those close to Paul and the Colossians.

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