“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:17)

What Paul says now seems to serve a summarizing effect for the whole of verses 12 through 16.  The Apostle now casts a net as broadly as he can, using words to bring everything possible under this closing exhortation.  The English word “Whatever” actually represents four words in the Greek.  The word pan has here the broadly inclusive the sense of “everything (anything) whatsoever.”[1] The words ho ti are the uncompounded form of a relative pronoun which means “whatever.”[2] The combination of these three words is a strengthened effort as saying “whatever”[3] or “whatsoever.”[4] Then the addition of ean achieves and even further heightened indefiniteness.[5] The effect is a clear attempt to make a statement so broadly inclusive as to gather up all possible scenarios.  Clearly God intends that worship should touch all of life and all of life should become worship.

That which is so broadly considered is whatsoever “you do.” The present tense points to whatever the present moment may at any given time find one engaged in.  This includes both what one does “in word or deed.” The first noun is used in its most general sense of “word.”  The second noun means here simply “deed” or “action” in contrast to “word.”[6] The singular forms look to each and every individual act or word and brings them under the microscope.  Anything whatsoever that may fall under the broad categories of something it is possible either to say or to do, whatever word or work you may find yourself occupied with at any given moment – this is the Apostle’s net cast as broadly and as inclusively as possible.

Having thus gathered up all possible endeavors any one of us might at any given time engage in, the Apostle now says we must “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The imperative “do” is supplied in English, though it is not present in the Greek text.  Yet clearly some such word is expected to be supplied mentally by the reader.  Reading an imperative such as “do” seems the safest assumption given the previous subjunctive (“do”).  The “all” is shorthand for the fuller earlier attempt at gathering all possible scenarios together.  We are to do “all” the “whatsoever”(s) “in the name of the Lord Jesus.”  The historical person of “Jesus” is “Lord” over all our individual words and works in each an every moment of life.  But just what is meant by “in the name of”?  Given the broad and inclusive nature of the wording of this sentence it probably has the widest sense possible.  To do something “in the name of the Lord Jesus” is then to do it in dependence upon Him, relying upon His strength and power.  It is to do whatever we do or say whatever we say for the furtherance of His established purposes.  It is also to do it for His glory, that He might be the one noticed and remembered in our words and actions.  To be such, each and every thing we say and do must be in conformity with the character of Jesus and with His revealed will and pleasure.  We should so act and speak that it would be as if Jesus Himself were performing the act or speaking the word.  In that sense it would be what Paul described of his own life: “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).

And all of this is to be done, “giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” This is the cognate verb to the adjective just used in verse 15 to speak of thankfulness.  As we have seen thankfulness is a major theme of this letter (1:3, 12; 2:7; 3:15, 16, 17; 4:2).  Here the present tense emphasizes ongoing, regular action.  The participial form modifies the assumed imperative “do” and is used to express attendant circumstances—in the unfolding of our daily lives thanksgiving should ever and always be permeating the atmosphere of all our words and works.  This gratitude is directed “to God the Father.”  Our thanksgiving “to God the Father” is to be offered “through Him,” clearly referring to “the Lord Jesus,” and viewing Him in His role as our mediator at God’s right ha

[1] Thayer, 492.

[2] Hariris, 171.

[3] BAGD, 632.

[4] Thayer, 492.

[5] BAGD, 586; Harris, 171.

[6] BAGD, 307.