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Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, May 29, 2020

Colossians 3:22-24 (L 24)

Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
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Established November 2008                                      Published: May 29, 2020

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
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Colossians 3:22-25  (L 24)

In Colossians 3, Paul is teaching the Colossians (and us) about how their union with Christ transforms their relationships with one another.  The true Believer has died with Christ, and have been raised with Him to walk in newness of life, and their life is now hidden with Him in God (3:3).  Thus, they are no longer who they used to be.  They are no longer a slave to sin and death.  Having been set free from these things, they are to walk worthy of the calling with which they have been called to the glory of God the Father (1 Corinthians 10:31; Ephesians 4:1-3).

Our apostle Paul introduced these saints to God’s design for the marriage and family relationship two areas they have dealings with on a daily basis, as do we.  He began by instructing the weaker vessel and then the stronger saying, “Wives submit to your own husbands;” “husbands love you wife;”  “Children, obey your parents in all things;” and “Fathers, don't provoke your children.”  Now Paul is about to instruct servants and their masters, which speaks of the employee employer relationship in the workplace of today and again he directs his attention to the weaker vessel first saying, “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh…”

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Please open your Bible at Colossians 3:22-25.

Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.  But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”

Servants and Masters

This scripture passage becomes more significant when you realize the word “servant” used 125 times in the N.T. has nothing to do with a paid servant but with a bond slave.  If you know ancient history, then you’re aware that there were slaves, i.e., people taken and forced to serve in some capacity against their will.  For example, a slave could be found in a home cleaning the soiled feet of houseguests or they could find themselves fighting for their life in the games, so let’s be clear there’s a huge difference between a slave and a bond servant.  A person became a bond servant by choice, in a manner of speaking, so it was legitimate.  That probably needs explaining, so, when a man was forced into bankruptcy in Paul’s day, there was no chapters 7 or 11 to ward off financial ruin.  The laws back then were not as gracious as they are today.  This meant they had to sell himself as a slave so that their master could pay off his debt.  In Roman times, the term bond servant or slave could refer to anyone who voluntarily served others.  But it usually referred to one who was held in a position of servitude until his debt was paid in full.  Under Roman law, a bond servant was considered the owner’s personal property.  On the other hand, slaves essentially had no rights and could even be killed with impunity by their owners.

Sometimes masters were careful and considerate of their servants.  A biblical example is Philemon and his servant Onesimus.  Things were running smoothly in Philemon’s household, so to speak, until something happened to change their relationship, marked by Onesimus running away (See Paul’s letter to Philemon).   One of the things we learn from this account is some masters were thoughtful and gracious, while others could be quite disagreeable, but no matter their situation Paul said obedience in all things is required:      

“Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh (3:22a) first we note Paul did not instruct servants to “demand their rights;” or “to rise up and flee oppression.”  Far from it.  Paul said, “obey in all things your master,” whether your master is just or unjust because it’s the right thing to do.  God is not unaware of their situation, so render your master obedience, not with “eyeservice, as menpleasers;” (looking to see if their master is around), but with “singleness of heart, fearing God:”  Whatever you do, do it heartily, remembering, you are doing it not for your master, but for the Lord (3:23), “knowing” that one day future there will be an accounting: 

Verses 3:24-25:

Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.  But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

Please take note of the fact that there is no master and servant with God; both are equal in respect to persons (3:25b).  By that Paul means to say even the master of a slave has a has a Master in heaven, so obey your master in all things and God will reward you. 

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” – as this phrase implies, every saved saint has a future divine appointment with the Lord Jesus Christ.  On that day He will judge the members of the Body of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:17, 5:9).

According to John 5:27, God the Father has placed all judgment into the hands of His dear Son for He alone is the perfect, righteous Judge.  Even though the revelation of the mystery was still a secret when the events of John chapter five occurred, the principle of Christ’s judgeship certainly applies during the dispensation of Grace.  In Colossians 2 Paul said, “In Him (Christ Jesus) dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”  As God, therefore, He knows the innermost thoughts and motives and the intent of one’s heart.  But it’s also true He took upon Himself the form of a human servant and dwelt among us (Philippians 2:5-8).  Therefore, no saved saint will be able to stand before Him at that time and say, “Lord you just don’t know the half of what I was going through at that particular time…”  He does know and He understands my friends.  The Lord Jesus Christ suffered in all points, as we, and yet committed no sin:

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). 

The prophet Isaiah identified the suffering Savior as a man of sorrows: “He is despised and rejected of men; A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:” (Isaiah 53:3). 

Returning to the question, “What reward,” Paul is referring to one of the prominent church doctrines of the N.T., i.e., the Doctrine of Rewards at “the Judgement Seat of Christ.”  It is a doctrine often ignored today, or when taught, it is misinterpreted because of the term, “judgment.”  Some folks have drawn the wrong conclusion about the nature and purpose of this divine evaluation witnessed by their teaching that God will mete out a just retribution for the sins in the Believer’s life and assign some form of punishment as a result.  However, that’s not what this book says.  Let’s review 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 again:

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Paul used the pronoun “we” 26 times in chapter 5, and in every instance he included himself in this teaching, as well as every true Believer in Christ, for the Corinthian letter is addressed to the saints (Believers) at Corinth.  For the record, the judgment spoken of here is for saved individuals only (see 1 Corinthians 1:1-3), no unbeliever will be present at the Judgment Seat of Christ. 

The Koine Greek word for Judgment Seat is Bema.  In Paul’s day it was a raised platform, with ascending steps, where rulers handed down decisions (Acts 18:12-16).  It was also the place where the judges presided over the Greek games, such as the Isthmus Games near Corinth, Greece.  From this vantage point they could see the entire field of events.  If an athlete was summoned to the Bema Seat it meant one of two things; either the participant was disqualified for disobeying the rules or rewarded with a garland for winning their particular event.  Based on that analogy when we appear before the Lord Jesus Christ to receive our reward or possibly suffer loss of reward, it in no way implies the Believer will lose their salvation.  Unlike the Great White Throne Judgment, condemnation is not the issue at the Judgment Seat of Christ:

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1).

This judgment will not be a trial to see whether the judged are innocent (saved) or guilty (unsaved), because the sin question was answered once and for all by Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross.  This examination will be like the judges stand at the county fair or at a high school track meet, where “rewards” are handed out to successful contestants.  Therefore, it is not a judgement for sin, but for “works.”  This judgment is described in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15:

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.  But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.  If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

I repeat, for emphasis, this judgment has zero to do with one’s salvation.  That reckoning will occur at the Great White Throne Judgment; this is where the lost will be judged and sentenced.  At the Judgment Seat of Christ the Believer’s “works” or their service for the Lord will be reviewed (see Ephesians 2:8-10).  At this point, the Believer reading this ought to be asking themselves how they, as “God’s workman,” have built upon Paul’s foundation (see 2 Timothy 2:15).  Is the Body of Christ, the Church, today, as far as its workmanship is concerned, built mostly of “gold, silver, and precious stones,” or of inferior building materials here identified as “wood, hay, stubble?”  Has it been built undispensationally with materials taken from the Mosaic Law, the Sermon on the Mount, Pentecost, or with the eternal truths of the finished, all-sufficient redemption wrought by Christ, “the preaching of the cross,” and the riches of God’s Grace that flows from Calvary?  Now you know why I repeatedly stress the practice of 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

For those who are considering putting this reality on the back burner for now, so to speak, should understand this judgement could occur at any time.  No one knows when the risen, Lord of glory will come to take away His Church and then examine every man  and every woman’s “work” to see if it passes His inspection (verse 13).  So then, don’t be counted among those who find themselves at this judgment thinking, “Should have, could have, and would have,” instead be more concerned about being an “approved workman for God,” proclaiming His Word using right division.      

Let’s return to the text under study:

 “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.  But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons” (3:22-25).

In plain language, the Lord is going to compensate both labor and management for the good they have done and whatever wrongs they may have committed.  Every Believer in Christ can expect to receive a reward for good conduct and suffer loss for wrong- doing.   Little wonder Paul added the statement: “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences” (2 Corinthians 5:11).

While the Corinthians lived as though there was no tomorrow, Paul cautioned them re: the “terror of the Lord;” for the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge; it’s not defined as wisdom until you do something with the knowledge.  Please don’t misunderstand what Paul means to say about “fearing God”  (3:22b).  Look at it this way, your name has been called and there you are standing before the Lord who has perfect recall of every idle word, thought and deed during your lifetime.  Paul’s saying we should fear the possible devastating consequences not only of a misspent life, but the close, divine, scrutiny of that life.  It is with this thought in mind Paul sought to persuade the carnal Corinthians of the gravity of the occasion.  In short, Paul is passionately trying to exhort them to “walk worthy of the calling in which they had been called” (Ephesians 4:1-3).  Why?  There will be an accounting!

Today’s Workplace

Paul’s instructions most certainly apply to every saved saint in the dispensation of God’s grace or this present age, but with greater significance, because practically everyone is paid a wage for their services and/or the work they do.  So, Paul’s instruction, “obey your master,” when applied to the workplace of today might read, obey your employer, executive secretary, shop foreman, supervisor, etc.” bearing in mind God requires obedience, because God has ordained rank and file in the Believer’s workplace, understanding there is order with God.  Therefore, obey your superior, do what he or she tells you to do, and do it heartily as unto the Lord, because you are really doing it for God, “knowing” He will with any and all offenders. 

This command, again, is directed to every saved saint in Christ; the lost or those who are earthly in nature march to the beat of a different drummer, so to speak.  However, our marching orders come from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the body, the church (1:18), through our apostle Paul.  Paul is showing the Colossians (and us) it’s possible to have an ideal work situation, but we must “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom and teaching…” (3:16) or remain in the forefront.  Then he gives the employer (master) something to think about: 

Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven” (4:1).

In layman’s terms, Paul’s saying, since there’s no respect to persons, “Pay your servants (employees) that which is just and equal for one very good reasonyou have a Master in heaven,”  and you want Him to be just and fair with you, right, so treat those in your employ equitably and equally. 

Surely, the regenerated wife and husband, child and parent, servant and master will come to realize that God’s wisdom greatly surpasses human knowledge, i.e., the wisdom of the world.  The Lord Jesus Christ has shown us the true way to enjoy harmonious human relationships and the key is “obedience” to God’s design for married couples, the family, and the workplace. 

(To be continued)

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