I am delighted to announce the release of my latest book, Long Story Short: God, Eternity, History and You.
God is writing a grand story–His Story–and He wants you to discover your own in His.
Long Story Short will take you on a unique journey from eternity to eternity–from Genesis to Revelation–unfolding God’s overarching plan for the whole of creation . . . and for you.
Finding your place in the vast plan of God involves:
a PURPOSE bigger than you’ve ever imagined,
a GAIN larger than you’ve ever dreamed,
a PLEASURE more intense than you’ve ever fantasized.
Dr. Richard Swenson (renown Futurist, Physician-researcher, Educator and bestselling Author of Margin) says this:
God I believe, takes a particular delight in creating meaning beneath the surface of the apparent. We think history, and we see dusty textbooks and boring lectures. But digging deeper, Kitchen shows us the IMAX version–history as a radiant, energetic, vibrating display of God’s glory and grace. May we never recover.
Publisher: CLC Publications (Fort Washington, PA)
Release: October 15, 2010
Edition: Softcover, 216 pages
CLC Publications online or 1-800-659-1240 (25% off during November)
“Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.” (Colossians 3:19)
Having addressed “wives” (v.18), Paul now turns to the “Husbands.” He lays two requirements upon them.
The first is to “love your wives.” The present imperative demands action that is habitual and regular. The word group connected with the verb “love” has been infused by the writers of the New Testament with significant Christian meaning. It should not pass without notice that the only other place the verb is used here in Colossians is in a description of God’s love toward us (3:12). In light of this divine love set upon us we are to “put on love” (v.14) toward one another. That this “love” has uniquely Christian content is seen in the parallel passage where Christ’s love for the church is the standard of measure for this command for the husband to love his wife (Eph. 5:25). This “love” now is made specific to the relationship of husbands toward “your wives.” Paul just used the same verb in a participial form in verse 12 to insist that every believer is “beloved” of God through His electing (“chosen of God”) grace. Paul went on to demonstrate that in this grace God not only loves the sinner, but sets him apart to Himself as “holy.” From the secure base of God’s enduring, covenant love, Paul issued moral imperatives (vv.12-13). That same foundation of God’s love to the husband is what frees him to selflessly love his wife in a singular, unique relationship.
The second command is “do not be embittered against them.” The verb is used only here by Paul and elsewhere in the New Testament only in Revelation (8:11; 10:9, 10). In Revelation it is used literally of something that goes into the stomach and brings bitterness and a violent response. It speaks of that which is “sharp, harsh, and bitter.” Here it is used metaphorically and points toward anger, resentment and bitterness of spirit. The present imperative with the negation (“not”) “forbids a habitual action.” In the passive, as here, it means to “become bitter” or to have become “embittered.” This must not happen “against them.” The preposition (“against”) speaks “of the goal or limit toward which a movement is directed.”
What exactly is forbidden here? Is the husband forbidden to become bitter toward his wife (KJV, NASB, NET)? Or is he forbidden to treat her harshly or bitterly (ESV, NIV, NRSV)? The answer is probably, “yes.” Paul forbids the husband to develop an inward bitterness toward the wife which will give vent to harsh and bitter words and actions toward her.
What would cause a man to be thus “embittered against” his wife and thus “be harsh with” her (NIV)? The emotional void left in the absence a secure, singular, covenant love will incite the wife to feel insecure and uncertain. This insecurity and uncertainty regarding their relationship tends to create in the wife that which produces bitterness in the husband—qualities such as possessiveness, clinginess, complaining and nagging. The husband, resting in the security and grace of God’s love to him, is to take the lead in covenant love with his wife, creating—by God’s grace—an environment of love, tenderness, understanding and security from which his wife is likely to respond to him with the same.
“Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” (Colossians 3:18)
Having gathered up his exhortations from 3:12-16 and given one overarching exhortation to close in verse 17, Paul now shifts his thoughts to the various kinds of relationships which make up the church (3:18-4:1). One should compare Paul’s statements here with their close parallel in Ephesians 5:22-6:9. We have here three groupings of two pairs of relationships, each one beginning with the subordinate in the relationship (wives, children, slaves) and then addressing the one in authority (husbands, fathers, masters). In each case Paul makes compliance a matter of Christian duty (“in the Lord,” v.18; “this is well-pleasing to the Lord,” v.20; “fearing the Lord,” v.22; “as for the Lord,” v.23; “from the Lord you will receive the reward,” v.24a; “It is the Lord Christ whom you serve,” v.24b; “you too have a Master in heaven,” 4:1).
He begins with “Wives.” The word can refer to women more generally, but here it seems to mark off “wives” more specifically. Note the use of the definite article to mark off the wives as a distinct grouping under present consideration.
These are to “be subject.” The verb is a compound arising from “under” and “appoint” or “order.” It is a word that bespeaks authority and submission. It was a military word which described the ranks of soldiers arranging themselves under the leadership of their commander. Here the decision as to whether it is a middle or passive voice is difficult. If passive it may have a reflexive sense to it and thus in either case it shows that it is a voluntary and personal choice of the wife. The present tense reveals that the wife is to choose this as an abiding attitude, not simply when such feelings may arise. Such submission is to be the on going pattern of a wife’s relationship to her husband. And of course the imperative mood makes this obligatory. She is to willingly obey this injunction of God.
A broader look at the New Testament reveals that such submission to authority is required not only of wives, but of all. All people are subject to the governing authorities (Rom. 13:1-5; Tit. 3:1). Believers are subject to one another (Eph. 5:21). Children are subject to their parents (Lk. 2:51). Slaves are subject to masters (2:9). The church is subject to Christ (Eph. 5:24). All things are subject to Christ (1 Cor. 15:27-28; Eph. 1:22; Phil. 3:21). Indeed, no one is exempt from submission to authority.
In this case the submission is of the wives “to your husbands.” As with the previous noun, this word can be used more generally, in this case to describe males. Here, however, it is clear that it is “husbands” who are in view.
The imperative of a wife’s submission to her husband is sounded throughout the New Testament (Eph. 5:22-24; Tit. 2:4-5; 1 Pet. 3:1-6). This is troublesome to many in our contemporary culture with its egalitarian impulses. Some have sought to alleviate their concerns by looking to the parallel passage in Ephesians 5 and citing verse 21: “. . . be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” They contend that this verse, coming immediately before the instructions for a wife to submit to her husband (v.22), truly reveals the apostle’s intent. He does not, they say, envision a male-led relationship, but a mutually submissive one. And this is correct, if we allow the rest of Ephesians five to inform what Paul meant by his words in verse 21. In what sense is submission a responsibility of both husband and wife? The text seems to make clear the answer. The husband submits himself to his wife by lovingly, selflessly taking the initiative of putting her needs before his own (Eph. 5:25-32). This is Christ-like leadership. But let us be clear—it is leadership. Robertson quips that while the New Testament pictures the husband as the head of the home, it does so assuming “the husband has a head and a wise one.” The wife subjects herself to her husband by way of submissive respect (Eph. 5:33). This affirms that both husband and wife submit to one another, but it rightly distinguishes the way in which each does so according to the wise order established by God.
Such subjection by the wife is to take place “as is fitting in the Lord.” The comparative particle (“as”) indicates “the manner in which someth[ing] proceeds” and can be rendered “in such a way.” The verb describes what is proper or fitting. It is used only three times in the New Testament, all by Paul (Eph. 5:4; Col. 3:18; Philem. 8). Here the imperfect tense has a present tense meaning to express “necessity, obligation, or duty.” It may express the notion that this is behavior which has been and continues to be “fitting.”
This obligation is not the Apostle’s way of asking believers to simply conform to current cultural customs. Rather he is reiterating what God had established long before. Paul elsewhere makes clear that God has established from creation a hierarchical order which is reflected in marriage (1 Cor. 11:3, 7-9) and that He has maintained this in the new order established by Christ (Eph. 5:23-24). Thus Paul can also say here that this necessity and obligation is pressed upon us “in the Lord.” By “Lord” Paul is referring to the Person of Jesus. This is in keeping with his Christological focus throughout this letter. Paul consistently grounds these relational instructions in our relationship to the person of Christ (vv.18, 20, 22, 23, 24). Our vertical relationship to Christ rules our horizontal relationships within society. Christ, not current, popular culture defines what is “fitting” and proper in our relationships.
Isaiah describes idols as things that must be carried by us – burdens to be borne (46:1-2). “Bel … Nebo … The things that you carry are burdensome …” (v.1)
But then he describes God as carrying us, bearing us through all our burdens (vv.3-4)! “You who have been borne by Me … And have been carried … I shall bear you! … I shall carry you … I shall bear you …” (vv.3-4)
Here is one great difference between the True God and idols …
“I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning
And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’” (vv.9-10)
Have your “gods” become a burden to you? Have you spent your life propping them up—trying desperately to believe that they are all-powerful and all-important … investing incredible amounts of energy chasing them and trying to make them perform/ deliver for you?
What a burden!
How much better to be carried by the one true God—the Creator of all things and the one who, in His sovereignty, providentially guides all things to their appointed end?