I don’t know if students today diagram sentences, but one of the best ways to understand Bible verses is to diagram them.
A diagram of Colossians 3.16-17 will yield treasures of knowledge and wisdom,
Colossians 3.16-17 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
The dominant phrase in verse 16 is “the word of Christ.” What is the word of Christ?
When Paul stayed for any length of time in a city, he set up his tent-making shop. Interested students and fellow workers would sit for hours and listen to Paul talk about Jesus.
What Paul said about Jesus was “the word of Christ.”
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are a written record of the actions, attitudes, and teachings of Jesus. These writings are the words of Christ.
Let It Dwell
The verb in the sentence is an imperative and is thus a command. We are to let the word of Christ inhabit our lives.
The adverb which modifies “let it dwell” is “richly.”
The word of Christ is so rich that the best decision a person can make is to let it dwell or inhabit our lives.
I discovered a small pamphlet years ago with the title, “Your Heart, Christ’s Home.” The title expresses what Paul is commanding the church. Let the word of Christ – his teaching, attitudes, and actions – take up residence in your heart.
The Word of Christ and Wisdom
When the word of Christ takes up residence in our hearts, wisdom will be the result.
The two men who lead the Sunday School class I attend made a horrible decision in the early years of their lives. When they surrendered the control of their lives to Jesus and began studying his words, they became two of the wiser people I know.
They are wise because they have opened their lives to the valuable word of Christ that is found in the Gospels.
They teach and often admonish the members of our class with wisdom that is present because Jesus’s words have found a place in their hearts.
The word admonish means “to put in mind, to caution, or reprove gently.” They frequently use examples from their own lives to gently nudge class members to live like Jesus.
Songs of Grace
When the word of Christ takes root in our inner self, it will change how we see the world.
Our inside condition will be filled with grace, joy, and gratitude. From the heart, we will sing songs inspired by the Holy Spirit and expressions of praise.
In the Name of the Lord
The “name of the Lord” refers to the reputation of our Lord and Savior. The expression “he or she has a good name” describes the reputation of that person.
The words and actions of followers of Jesus will either enhance Jesus’ reputation or detract from it.
Gandhi’s tragic quote is all too important at this point. He said, “I would have been a Christian if it had not been for Christians.”
The word of Christ was at home in Gandhi’s life. He memorized the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and used its wisdom to teach and admonish his followers.
At the same time, the reputation of Christ was tarnished by the behavior of the British government toward India.
Gandhi was not able to separate the words from the deeds and turned away from Christ.
Paul’s second imperative is “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (verse 17).
Whatever we say and do should make Jesus’ reputation in the world as great as possible.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
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