Monthly Archives: October 2010

Why does the God of love commit genocide?[1]

A poster on a Christian forum made this comment:

“I just read Joshua 10 last night…I’ll be completely honest and say that it really hurts my faith to read such things about our God.
That said I believe God is the killer of all things. Since He gives them life, He also gives them death when His will for them on earth is finished. Death is not the issue for me, it’s the genocidal method of it all that bothers me”.[2]

A sympathetic response on that same Forum came with these comments:

“Same here. And that is why most Christians will not respond on this thread. They just dont (sic) have an answer for it. It’s not their fault by any means. But, we do need to confront issues like these”.[3]

It is true that many Christians did not provide adequate answers to these accusations against God and His actions in history. I supplied the following response:[4]

Some of the issues of God’s judgment through genocide include:

1.  The God of love, mercy and justice did give instructions to destroy whole populations (see Ex. 23:32-33; 34:11-16; Deut. 7:1-5; 20:16-18). In many of these circumstances in the OT, God effected a herem, a curse, meaning “that which stood under the ban” or “that which was dedicated to destruction”. The root idea of this term is “separation” (for destruction).

2.  God effected the curse of destruction (genocide) on people and nations because they violently and consistently opposed God’s work over a lengthy period of time. See examples in southern Canaan (Num 21:2-3), Jericho (Josh 6:21), Ai (Josh 8:26), Makedah (Josh 10:28) and Hazor (Josh 11:11).

3.  Take the example of Abraham and his descendants who were exiled and mistreated for 430 years before God led them out of Egypt. Why did God delay for over 4 centuries? Gen. 15:13-16 tells us why: “The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (v. 16, ESV).So, God in his patience, waited for the Canaanites to slowly fill up their cups of condemnation through committing sinful behaviour. God was never precipitous (abrupt) in his actions. God’s grace and mercy were waiting for these evil nations to repent. We need to remember that the Israelites were not exempt from sin. Deut. 9:5 makes it clear: “Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” (ESV).

4.  We see from Deut. 20:16-18 that God cut off and judged the nations to prevent the corruption of Israel and the rest of the world. When a nation committed the horrible act of burning children as a gift to the gods (Lev. 18:21) and practised sodomy (homosexuality), bestiality and other gross sin (see Lev. 18:25, 27-30), God’s grace and mercy conclude and God’s judgment comes. It is a false emphasis to only promote the love and mercy of God without His justice.

5.  On the human level, my daughter suffers from a debilitating disease schleroderma and her surgeon did not hesitate to amputate part of her ulcerated left index finger so that it would not spread to the rest of her hand. In the process a slight amount of healthy flesh had to be amputated with the ulcerated portion. God did something similar with the Amorites, Canaanites, etc, by removing the sinful “cancer” that had the potential to infect all of society.

6.  For you to oppose what God did to the evil nations of the world through His judgment of genocide, you are claiming to have or understand God’s omniscience (all-knowing ability), which you and I do not possess. Systematic theologian, Wayne Grudem, defines “omniscience” as,

“God fully knows himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and eternal act”.[5]

7.  It shouldn’t take much reason to understand that if God had saved the women and children in the Canaanite wicked nations, it would not have taken long before a new generation of wicked, pagan people would rise up who would be just like their pagan ancestors.

8.  God, in his omniscience, knows what He is doing in bringing judgment on wicked nations. How much longer will the love, mercy and patience of God continue before the same kind of judgment happens to my nation or yours?

To dwell only on the goodness, love and mercy of God presents an awfully skewed view of God. I am committed to belief in the goodness, love and mercy of God. But the Lord God Almighty has many mental and moral attributes that are omitted by those who dwell on the goodness and mercy of God. These attributes of God include:

  • Omniscience (God fully knows Himself and all things that are actual and possible in “one simple and eternal act” according to Wayne Grudem’s definition);
  • Wisdom (God always chooses the best goals and the best means to achieve those goals);
  • Truthfulness & faithfulness;
  • Goodness (God is the final standard of good and all that God is and does is worthy of approval — including judgment through genocide);
  • Love (God eternally gives of himself to others);
  • Mercy, grace and patience (God was patient with the Canaanites until the cup of his wrath was full and the judgment of God was effected through genocide);
  • Peace;
  • Righteousness and justice (God will always act in accordance with what is correct, God being the final standard of what is right). God’s exercise of occasional genocide is based on His standard of righteousness and justice and NOT on your standard or mine;
  • Jealousy (which means that God continually seeks to protect His own honour); and
  • Wrath (which means that God intensely hates all sin, including the sin of unrighteousness and rebellion of pagan nations).

When people oppose God’s acting in righteousness and justice in his genocide of some nations, they are opposing some of God’s nature where he manifests his attributes in time and space.

For how much longer will God’s patience extend to your nation and mine?

There are expositions, giving biblical reasons for God’s action in judgment, including genocide, on the Internet. See:

Canaanite Genocide”;

Completely destroy them” – 1 Samuel 15:18[6]


[1] Much of the information in this article was gleaned from W. C. Kaiser Jr., Peter H. Davids, F. F. Bruce & Manfred T. Brauch 1996. Hard Sayings of the Bible. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, “I Samuel 15:18, ‘Completely destroy them!”, pp. 206-207, also available from Google Books at: 30 October 2010).

[2] Christian Forums, Christian Apologetics, “A lot of killing”, 98cwitr, #190, available at: (Accessed 30 October 2010).

[3] Ibid., ke1985, #202, available at: (Accessed 30 October 2010).

[4] Ibid., OzSpen, #215, available at: (Accessed 30 October 2010).

[5] Wayne Grudem 1994. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, p. 190.

[6] Kaiser et al.

Whytehouse designs

Marriage Garments (Colossians 3:12-19)

Wedding couple


By Spencer D Gear

This is the message that I presented when I married a Christian couple. I have changed their names to preserve their privacy.

I know this is a very personal question, Bill and Cindy. What clothes will you be wearing for the very first night of your marriage? If you are only thinking of skimpy negligee or sexually stimulating undies, you may be very disappointed by your first night. In fact, those kinds of clothing are designed to bring a bit of spice into the relationship, but you will need more than that for a lasting marriage.

If your clothing is from the list I am about to read, it will:

  • give you a magnificent start to your marriage;
  • be the greatest gift you can give to each other for a lifetime of marital bliss–and I mean that. If you put on these clothes,
  • it will guarantee that your married life will be like heaven on earth.

I do not have time to talk about the ragged clothes that you need to discard. These are the clothes that build a magnificent marriage:

Are you ready?

As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity… 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. (Colossians 3:12-14, 17-19 NIV)

That’s not the normal list of clothes for your honeymoon. This spiritual clothing is critical, not only for a dynamic fellowship of Christian believers, but also for a marriage that has the blessing of God himself.

In your marriage, both of you need to put on,

1. Compassion.

Being able to feel with somebody who is experiencing joy or sorrow and then act show identification with joy and to bring comfort for those who are injured. “Compassion, pity, mercy.”[1] The “oh, no” that comes when you see another’s misery. 2 Cor. 1:3, God is called the “Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

God and Christ are like this. In Jesus’ parables, certain key people show what God’s compassion/mercy is like.

  • Take the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matt. 18:27, “The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go.”
  • Luke 10:33, “But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.”
  • The parable of the prodigal son (the lost son), Luke 15:20, the prodigal concluded, “So he got up and went to his father. `But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him. He ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”[2]

Each of you, Bill and Cindy, may have times of sickness, injury, or feeling down. As believers in marriage, you must not be indifferent to suffering. You should be concerned to meet one another’s needs. This is compassion

Another piece of clothing that is related to compassion is:

2. Kindness

“The radical idea of the word is profitableness. Compare have become unprofitable. Hence it passes readily into the meaning of wholesomeness.” It is the opposite of being abrupt and severe in your words and actions. “Gentle, gracious and kindly.”[3]

Christ called the weary and burdened to come to him for rest. “Take my yoke…For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” “Easy” is the related word to “kindness.” It does not mean “easy” as we understand it. The idea is that Christ’s yoke is “good, serviceable.” Luke 5:39 says the “old wine is better.” “Better” is the same word. It means “good, mellowed with age.” It is hard to get an English word that conveys the idea. Christ’s yoke is “wholesome, serviceable, kindly.”[4]

“A gentle, gracious disposition.”[5]

Again, this is a quality which God demonstrates in very specific ways. It expresses “the abundance of his goodness which he displays to his covenant people–indeed to all men as his creatures. His constant mercy and readiness to help are essential themes of the psalms (Ps. 25:7; 31:19; 65:11; 68:10; 85:12). We see it with the prophets where the “kindness of God is all the more amazing in the face of his people’s sin (Jer. 33:11).” “As a response to God’s merciful kindness the person who has put on the new man, the Lord Jesus Christ, is to show kindness to others. This does not come naturally; nor can it be produced from one’s innate ability. Along with `patience’ it is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) and according to I Corinthians 13:4 is a direct outworking of love (itself a fruit of the Spirit): `love is patient and kind.'”[6]

John MacArthur says that “kindness” is “the grace that pervades the whole person, mellowing all that might be harsh”. A kind spouse is as concerned about the other spouse’s good as about his/her own. God is kind, even to ungrateful or evil people. Jesus said, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back, then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:35).

3. Humility

“Having a humble opinion of one’s self, a deep sense of one’s (moral) littleness, modesty, lowliness of mind.”[7] In the NT, this word speaks of the “lowliness” with which one serves Christ. In Acts 20:19, in his farewell to the Ephesian elders, Paul said, “I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews.”

This lowliness causes us to be “submissive to other Christians” (Eph. 4:2; 1 Peter 5:5). Phil. 2:3-4 beautifully summarises what this clothing should look like in the Christian church and in marriage,

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”[8]

“Humility” is clothing that must replace the self-love and selfishness that will poison your relationship.

4. Gentleness

Closely related to humility. This word needs to be understood against its OT background. This word in the Greek translation of the OT (the LXX) was “used to designate the poor in Israel, those without … property, many of whom were victims of unscrupulous exploitation (Isa 32:7; Ps 37:14; Job 24:4. The `poor’ are the defenceless, those without rights, who are oppressed, cheated and exploited (see Psalms 9 & 10). However, Yahweh is the God of those without rights (Ps. 25:9; 149:4; 34:2); he comforts those who find no mercy from their fellow-men (Isa 29:19; Job 36:15) and will finally reverse all that is against them (Isa 26:6; Ps 37:11; 147:6).

“Meekness” is another translation and it is one of the marks of Jesus’ ministry. This is how Jesus treated people when he was on earth (Matt 11:29).

Gentleness/meekness if the way Christians are to treat fellow-believers who have sinned (Gal 6:1-2) by bearing one another’s burdens and thus fulfilling the “law of Christ.” This is also the way we are to treat outsiders (Tit 3:2; cf. Phil 4:5, “let your gentleness be evident to all”). One of the fruit of the Spirit.

We must not confuse this gentleness with weakness. It contains these two elements:

  • consideration of others, and
  • a willingness to waive one’s rights.[9]

“An inwrought grace of the soul, that temper of spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting… Does not fight with God… or struggle to contend with Him.” It is “first of all a meekness before God… In the face of men, even of evil men, out of a sense that these, with the insults and injuries which they may inflict, are permitted and employed by God for the chastening and purifying of His elect” (Trench).[10]

This is not spineless Christianity. Instead, it is the “willingness to suffer injury instead of inflicting it. The gentle person knows he/she is a sinner among sinners and is willing to suffer the burdens others’ sin may impose on him/her. This gentleness can only be produced by the Holy Spirit” (cf. Gal 5;22-23).[11]

5. Patience

Long-suffering. “The patient person does not get angry at others.” If you are injured by your spouse by words spoken or actions against you, you do not allow yourself to be provoked by him/her or to flare up in anger. “Patience under ill-treatment of others.”[12]

We see this with God himself and His people. Ex. 34:6, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” God’s patience with people means that we ought to act in a similar way to others. It’s a fruit of the Spirit. You can’t generate it yourself from your own resources.[13]

Bill and Cindy, your clothes of “patience” endure wrong and put up with exasperating conduct of others rather than flying into a rage or wanting to get even.[14] It’s the opposite of resentment or revenge.

This is the way all Christians are to treat others, especially believers.

6. Bear with each other

“Holding yourselves back from one another.”[15] It simply means to “endure,” “bear with,” “put up with.” Present tense means it is continual, but it is also reciprocal, “one another.”[16]

“To endure, to hold out in spite of persecution, threats, injury, indifference, or complaints and not retaliate.” It is what Paul meant when he told the Corinthians, “When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly” (I Cor 4:12-13). It did not characterise the Corinthians who were taking each other to court.

“`To bear with’ suggests the thought of putting up with things we dislike in others.”[17]

7. Forgive as the Lord forgave you

What did Jesus say in Matt. 6:14-15? “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

You will only receive the forgiveness of God if you forgive others.

Here in Colossians, this is not the most common word for remission, forgiveness. The usual word (aphiemi) means to cancel, remit, pardon. This one emphasises the “gracious nature of the pardon (at Luke 7:42 in our Lord’s parable of the two debtors, the KJV translates the word, “frankly forgave.” It is elsewhere in Paul’s writings, speaking of “God’s gracious giving or forgiving” (Rom 8:32; I Cor 2:12; Gal 3:18; Eph 4:32; Phil 1:29; 2:9; Col 2:13).

Again it’s the present tense. This forgiveness is “to be unceasing, even unwearying (a point which Jesus himself taught when instructing his disciples that forgiveness ought to be `not seven times, but seventy-seven times’ or `seventy times seven.’[18]

Built on God’s “grace”, so it means “to grant as a favor.” Sometimes this special word was used for the cancellation of a debt (Luke 7:42-43).[19]

Within your marriage (and the Christian congregation), “there will be grounds for grievance from time to time” of one person against another. Whenever these grievances arise, Bill and Cindy, you are to forgive. How often? Seventy times seven–an endless number. In the church, in a Christian marriage, it ought to be a mutually forgiving fellowship.

Why should we do this? The example that has been set for us: “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” “God did not love us, choose us, and redeem us because we were deserving, but purely because He is gracious.” Rom 5:8, 10 reads, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us… When we were enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son.” “If God is so gracious to us, how much more, then, should we be … forgiving to fellow-sinners, especially to one another.”[20]

If we harbor bitterness or are driven by an unforgiving attitude, we ignore what Christ has done for us. Can we do less than forgive one another when we have been forgiven so much by God?

“Leonardo da Vinci was one of the outstanding intellects of all time, for he was great as a draftsman, an engineer and a thinker. We’re told that just before he commenced work on his`Last Supper’ he had a violent quarrel with a fellow painter. So enraged and bitter was Leonardo that he determined to paint the face of his enemy, the other artist, into the face of Judas. In this way, he would take his revenge and vent his spleen by handing the man down in infamy and scorn to succeeding generations. The face of Judas was therefore one of the first that he finished, and everyone could easily recognize it as the face of the painter with whom he had quarrelled.

“But when Leonardo came to pain the face of Christ, he could make no progress. Something seemed to be baffling him, holding him back, frustrating his best efforts. At length he came to the conclusion that the thing which was checking and frustrating him was the fact that he had painted his enemy into the face of Judas. He therefore painted out the face of Judas and commenced anew on the face of Jesus, and this time with success the ages have acclaimed.[21]

The lesson? Cindy and Bill, you cannot at one and the same time be clothing yourselves with the features of Christ in your own life and at the same time be putting on other clothing of animosity and hatred. Whenever there are spats in your marriage (and they will come because of your sinful natures), forgive one another as Christ has forgiven you.

8. Love, which binds them all together in perfect unity

The image is of loose eastern garments. “Put on love as the binding factor, which will hold them together and make them useable… When these virtues are practiced without the accompaniment of divine love, they are as sounding bras and a tinkling cymbal.”[22]

Love is the garment that produces these qualities and unity in marriage and the church. Bill and Cindy, you will never have a magnificent marriage of superb Christian fellowship through compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with each other and forgiving one another, unless you love one another with a truly, self-sacrificing, giving kind of love that only God can give. We can sum up these commands in Colossians 3:12-14 by “love one another.”

Paul, to the Romans (13:10) said, “Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.”

To all Christian believers, not just this Christian couple entering marriage, “love is the beauty of the believer, dispelling the ugly sins of the flesh that destroy unity.”[23]

If your life is clothed with these garments, Cindy, you will find no difficulty in submitting to Bill, your husband.

Bill, if you put on this attire, you will “love your wife, Cindy, and not be harsh with her.” You will love her as Christ loved the church.


[1]Kenneth S. Wuest 1973. Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament (Colossians), Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, p. 224.

[2] Based on Peter T. O’Brien 1982. Word Biblical Commentary, Colossians, Philemon. Waco, Texas: Word Books, Publisher, p. 199.

[3]Marvin R. Vincent 1887. Word Studies in the New Testament (The Epistle to the Romans), vol 3. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., p. 335.

[4]Vincent, vol 1, p. 70.

[5]Wuest, p. 224.

[6]O’Brien, p. 200.

[7]Wuest, p. 224.

[8]O’Brien, p. 200

[9]O’Brien, p. 201.

[10]Wuest, p. 224.

[11]John F. MacArthur Jr. 1992. Colossians & Philemon (New Testament Commentary). Chicago: Moody Publishers, p. 156.

[12]Wuest, p. 224.

[13]O’Brien, pp.24-25.

[14]O’Brien, p. 201.

[15]A.T. Robertson 1931. Word Pictures in the New Testament: The Epistles of Paul, vol 4. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, p. 504.

[16]O’Brien, pp. 201-202.

[17]Frank E. Gaebelein (gen ed) 1978. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians – Philemon, vol 11 (Curtis Vaughan: Colossians). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, p. 215.

[18]O’Brien, p.202.

[19]Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Colossians, p. 201.

[20]John F. MacArthur 1986, Ephesians (New Testament Commentary). Chicago: Moody Publishers, p. 190.

[21]Gene A. Getz, Living for Others When You’d Rather Live for Yourself (Studies in Ephesians 4-6), Regal Books, 1985, p. 82.

[22]Wuest, p. 225.

[23]MacArthur, Colossians, p. 157.


Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 January 2014.

Colossians 1 – 4

(public domain)

By Spencer D Gear

The Introduction to the Book of Colossians in the English Standard Version of the Bible gives an excellent, brief overview of this book:

“Paul wrote this letter to the church in Colossae (about A.D. 60) to counteract false teachers. Evidently these teachers were trying to impose strict rules about eating and drinking and religious festivals, and were advocating the worship of angels. Paul shows the superiority of Christ over all human philosophies and traditions. He writes of Christ’s deity (“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” [1:15]) and of the reconciliation he accomplished with his blood. He explains that the right way of living in this world is to focus on heavenly rather than earthly things. God’s chosen people must leave their sinful lives behind and live in a godly way, looking to Christ as the head of the church (1:18)”.[1]

The following table incorporates my developing series of expository sermons on the Book of Colossians. I’m a part-time preacher, speaking when receiving invitations to preach at various churches in Australia. I’m currently located in South-East Queensland

Chapter 1

Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4
1:21-23 3:12-19



[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Cross Reference Edition) 2001. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Bibles (a division of Good News Publishers), p. 1183.


Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 January 2014.

What is a family? (Colossians 3:17-21)

(public domain)

I. Introduction

What is a family? Why should we need to be asking this question in a sermon in church on Mother’s Day? Simple!

Families are in conflict in this town & district. Dare I suggest that there might be family disharmony in this church. Also, families are being redefined today, but that’s nothing new. Here are a few examples of how the definition of marriage has changed over the years.

On April 6th we celebrated a very important anniversary in church history – well, important for some. On April 6 1868 – Mormon Church leader Brigham Young, aged 67, married his 27th and last wife. (In all, Brigham Young’s 27 wives bore him 47 children.)[1] This cult leader officially believed in and practised polygamy.

Does the name John Stanhope ring a bell? Have you heard some of his philosophy about marriage in the mass media lately? He’s the chief minister of the ACT (Australian Capital Territory, Canberra) and has introduced the “Civil Union Bill” into the ACT Legislative Assembly.

Angela Shanahan wrote in The Canberra Times, 1st April, 2006:

‘Mr Stanhope has denied that he wants to pass an act enabling marriage between people of the same sex. “Civil unions are not marriage and I have been at pains throughout the debate to make that point plain,” he said in Wednesday’s Canberra Times [29th March 2006]. Oh, really? So why does the Civil Union Bill state, “Civil union is to be treated under territory law the same way as marriage”‘.[2]

There’s another way that family life is being redefined in Australia: “Between 1996 and 2001 the census count of people aged 15 years and over in defacto [relationships][3] rose by 28% from 744,100 to 951,500.”[4]

This is what the Australian Bureau of Statistics states:

‘The . . . marriage rate has been declining since 1970. This decline in the marriage rate can be mainly attributed to changes in attitudes to marriage and living arrangements that have occurred since then’.[5] [Those are the words from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.]

Into this situation God steps with these words:

II. God’s Word on marriage (Col. 3:17-21)

Let’s turn to what God says about family in Col. 3:17-21.

Please note these fundamentals for the health of your family and mine, the health of the church, and the health of the nation. There are key words in this passage.

  • Whatever you do in words and actions, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks (this is the foundation); [this is obviously addressed to Christians];
  • Wives (are female);
  • Husbands (are male);
  • Children (male and female);
  • Parents (male and female);
  • Fathers (male). Or as we’ll see, this word could just as easily be translated, “parents.”

Let’s get something clear at the outset. Here in Colossians, God’s order for the family is heterosexual marriage (a man and a woman). Elsewhere in the NT we learn that “a woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord” (I Cor. 7:39). Marriage is for this life.

God’s best order for children is in a marriage relationship and not a defacto relationship (it’s impossible to produce children naturally in a homosexual relationship). God invented marriage, human beings invented the alternatives.

One of the fundamental laws in God’s universe is in Gal. 6:7: “Don’t be misled. Remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow!” (NLT).

That’s why we need to examine this passage from Colossians in the light of Col. 3:17.

A. Do everything in the Name of the Lord Jesus (v. 17)

If you want things to go God’s way in your household, the foundation is: “Do everything in the name of the Lord.” What does that mean? It does not mean: (1) We try to live the best way that we can, not imposing our views on others, not being homophobic, not being judgmental – it does not take that line. (2) It certainly does not mean grit your teeth, call on friends for support, and exhorting – you can do it! Forget about human effort. You cannot do it.

Here’s the key. In all that you say and do, “do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (1) Christians have a new power to carry out God’s commands. That power comes from the grace of God they have received in Christ’s salvation. (2) Christians have a new purpose in life. As I Cor. 10:31 puts it: “do it all for the glory of God.”

The only way that you will have the power and purpose to do what I am preaching is by doing it all to the glory of God. Here in Col. 3:17, the language is: “Do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” To do something “in the name of the Lord Jesus” refers to Jesus as he revealed Himself to us in the NT. “In the name” means “in vital relation with him” that you are “in harmony with his revealed will, in subjection to his authority, in dependence on his power.”[6]

What kind of culture was it like in Colossae, Asia Minor (Turkey today) in the first century? When Paul addressed these Christians, through the God-breathed Scriptures, what kinds of people were his audience?

Paul wrote in Col. 1:2, “To the holy and faithfulbrothers [meaning brothers and sisters] in Christ at Colosse.” What was their background? In vv. 5-11 of Col. 3 we get a picture of why Paul had to write about the basics of the Christian family. The Colossians were recent converts from the darkness and putrid sensuality of a heathen lifestyle. There was a danger of drifting back into a sexually promiscuous life. Three things could have been influencing these new Christian converts:

  • Their evil past;[7]
  • The wicked environment in which they lived;
  • Passion in their hearts that had not been totally controlled by Christ; and
  • The tug of Satan’s clever tricks.

Paul needed to teach them family and sanctification matters to prevent them from slipping back into the evils of paganism. What did Paul teach?

This is not a choice in Kingdom living. What I’m about to preach is not politically correct in our decadent culture. This is why some families are in disorder, even disaster. Over the next 25 minutes, I want to teach what the Bible says about how the family can survive and thrive in a feminist, chauvinistic, and opinionated culture.

Remember this acronym: S-L-O-NE. If all families in this church practised S-L-O-NE, our church would become radical and Bundaberg people would have to sit up and take notice.

Paul gives 4 commands for every family to become a S-L-O-NE family.

First command:

B. If you want things to go God’s way in your family, in the Name of the Lord Jesus, wives submit to your husbands (v. 18)

The parallel Scripture in Eph. 5:22 expands this a little: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”

That’s the first part of becoming a S-L-O-NE family. It’s a command: Wife, submit to your husband. This is a simple straightforward statement but this teaching is widely challenged in Christian circles, even among some evangelicals. Some of these “argue that Paul’s teaching on this theme is not Spirit-inspired, but reflects his [male] chauvinistic, rabbinic attitude toward women.”[8] However, when we come to the command for husbands to love their wives, I wonder if these same people would argue that this also is not Spirit-inspired.

What we have here in Col. 3 is God’s way for marriage and the family. It’s not surprising that it is at odds with the world’s thinking. Folks, here we have commands for all times.

Wives, “be subject to/submit to” your husbands!

1. What is submission?

Feminists think this is an abusive word. I read a review of a book on submission and it stated: “For many modern Christians, and not only for feminists, submission of any kind is seen as degrading, while power in an ecclesiastical or spiritual context is always regarded as abusive.”[9] Is that so?

What does it mean to “submit” (the Greek hupotasso)? This verb appears about 40 times in the NT and it “carries an overtone of authority and subjection or submission to it.”[10] Before we get to a specific explanation of submission, let’s look at some other passages in the NT where submission is used:[11]

  • Luke 2:51, Jesus’ submission to his parents;
  • Luke 10:17, 20 describes the demons who were subject to the apostles;
  • Rom. 8:7, Paul uses the word to describe being submissive to the commands of God’s law;
  • In Rom. 13:1, 5 we have the need for every person to submit to the governing authorities which are established by God;
  • In I Cor. 15:27-28 and Eph. 1:22, hupotasso looks forward “to the time when all things in the universe are made subject to Christ and God in eternal glory.”[12]

“To submit” is a military-style[13] word in the Greek that means to recognise “the rights of authority. [Paul’s] main thought is that the wife is to defer to, that is, be willing to take second place to, her husband. Yet we should never interpret this as if it implies that the husband may be a domestic [dictator][14], ruling his family with a rod of iron. It does imply, however, that the husband has an authority [that] the wife must forego exercising.”[15]

Let’s say a few things about what submission is not:[16]

First, there is absolutely no suggestion or implication that the wife is inferior to her husband.

“Jesus made some of his most startling revelations to women” (John 4:13-14, 21-26; 11:25-26; 20:11-18).[17]

Clearly, in Christianity, women are not inferior to men.

Secondly, the command for wives to submit to their husbands is not an absolute with no exceptions.

A wife must never submit to her husband who is abusive to her. A husband should never ask his wife to do something that would violate her scripturally informed conscience. We have this limitation for the wife from Acts 5:29, “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!'” (NIV). God does not endorse abuse or anything that violates another’s conscience.

Thirdly, this command for the wife to submit to her husband is issued in the context of a husband who loves his wife.

A wife must never be treated by a husband as an object. She is to be loved by her husband. We’ll get to that in a moment.

2. Is this for all wives?

God’s command for an orderly family is, “Wife, submit to your husband.” It is not a command for a husband to state, “Wife, submit to me.” That would be completely out of order from God’s intention here.

It’s a command to the Christian wife: If you want things to go well in your family, submit yourself to your husband. We know this because it is the middle voice in the Greek. We don’t have a middle voice in English, but it means, Wife, submit yourself to your husband.” A wife’s submission to her husband is, therefore, voluntary. However, if a Christina wife does not submit, she is being disobedient to God’s command here.

3. In what areas should she submit?

Here v. 18 states, “as is fitting in the Lord.” If you go to the parallel passage in Eph. 5:22, we read, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” “As is fitting in the Lord” has “the thought of what is becoming and proper” and relates to Christian marriage.

This is where it gets a bit tricky because this amounts to my application of the Word of God and I want to only make suggestions of how submission of the wife to the husband might happen in a Christian family:

  • I think it would be a foolish husband who would require authority over areas in which he was not gifted. For example, I’m a hopeless cook and am not astute in handling financial matters. My wife is an excellent cook and is a former National Bank employee. Who should cook and handle the finances in our family? Desley, of course.
  • Child rearing is often a contentious issue but I’m of the view that mutual agreement is needed with husband and wife agreeing on implementing God’s way of raising the family. It often spells disaster when a husband and wife are not in agreement over parenting principles and actions.
  • Just one other practical example. I consider that a husband’s choice of profession and location for employment should involve the wife yielding in submission – but not without extensive discussion on the pros and cons of going there to do that.

Wives, if you want your family to go God’s way, “submit to your husband as is fitting in the Lord.” That’s the S of the S-L-O-NE family – submit.

Alright husbands, it’s now your turn.

C. If you want things to go God’s way in your family, in the name of the Lord Jesus, husband, you must love your wife (v. 19).

In 33 years of marriage and family counselling, I do not ever recall one husband or wife who disagreed with the command: “Husband, love your wife.” Please note the fundamental: It’s a

1. Command to love.

It’s a present, active imperative in the Greek: It means, “keep on loving” your wife. But what is love? Is it what you see in the movies? Is that what you get in bed? What kind of love is it?

In the world of the first century, even among the Jews, the wife was often treated as little more than a piece of property to be used. Husbands would force wives to obey.

Agape love is “a willing love, not the love of passion or emotion, but the love of choice—a covenant kind of love.”[18] It’s a “caring love, a deliberate attitude of mind that concerns itself with the well-being of the one loved.”[19] You are commanded to love with a devotion to your wife and NOT with satisfaction for you.

One of the most beautiful ways this can be done is expressed so profoundly in Eph. 5:25-28:

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself”. (NIV)

God designed that a wife would submit in the context of this kind of other-centred love.

Husbands, that’s the positive command – love your wife! There’s a negative command:

2. Do not be harsh or bitter with them.

The word, “harsh”,[20] “suggests a surly, irritable attitude. Perhaps the [common lingo] ‘don’t be cross with [her]’ best expresses the meaning.”[21] In the only other uses of this word in the NT (Rev. 8:11; 10:9-10), “it refers to something bitter in taste. Paul tells husbands not to call their wives ‘honey’ and than act like vinegar. They must not display harshness of temper or resentment toward their wives. They are not to irritate or exasperate them, but rather to provide loving leadership in the home.”[22]

Why would God have to give Paul this command to make a healthy family? It was obviously being violated in the Colossian church and Paul had to teach what God wanted for a Christian family to function.

This continuing agape love by the husband will have “a moderating influence upon the husband’s exercise of authority.

Husband, how can we apply this – being other-centred in loving your wife and not being bitter against her?

When children are young and you come home from a hard day at work, how do you think you could love your wife in relation to dealing with the children? If your wife is an at-home Mum who has been running after children all day, she needs a break. Love her by caring for the children – even though you may feel worn out. Imagine how she feels?

I had a very practical application come home to me as I was preparing this sermon. We have a rather large lawn to mow and I use a ride-on mower. I sometimes get a bit uptight (exasperated) with my wife’s need to rake the grass and rake the leaves under our 4 mango trees. I am not loving her as Christ loved the church when I resent all that raking after all that mowing. If that is her need, I need to love her by unconditional response to her need.

Husband, in the S-L-O-NE family life, this is the L=love your wife.

Now it’s time for the children

D. If you want things to go God’s way in your family, in the name of the Lord Jesus, children must obey their parents (v. 20);

2 Tim. 3:1-5 gives a penetrating analysis of our culture. It reads:

‘But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them’ (NIV).

Will you note that one of the signs of the last days will be those who are “disobedient to their parents.” We have problems with law and order in society, when families come to church, and especially in the family because children do not heed this command: “Children, obey your parents. Who are these tekna? This “is a general term for children and is not limited to a specific age group. It refers to any child still living in the home and under parental guidance.”[23] Again this is the present tense command – continue to obey your parents.

Remember the 10 Commandments: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” It is very serious to disobey your parents. Disobedience to parents is what marks the ungodly children (2 Tim. 3:2; cf. Rom. 1:30).

Children, please note how extensive this obedience to parents is:

1. In everything?

Should children obey their parents if parents are into drugs, sexual immorality or assault their children – parents who act illegally?

Absolutely not because “in everything” is covered by this over-arching biblical principle from Acts 5:29, “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!'”

Children, a fundamental for life going well in your family and in this nation is for you to obey God’s command: “Obey your parents.” Why? This verse makes it clear

2. This pleases the Lord.

So, the O in the S-L-O-NE family is “obedience” by children to parents.

S = submit, a command for wives

L = love, a command for husbands

O = obey, a command for children

There’s one more:

E. If you want things to go God’s way in your family, in the name of the Lord Jesus, parents must not embitter their children (v. 21)

Col. 3:21 reads: ” Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” This word, “fathers” is probably better translated as “parents” as it is in Heb.. 11:23, which reads: “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born.” That’s the same word — parents.

We have a parallel here with Eph. 6:4: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

1. What does it mean to embitter them?

“Embitter”[24] in the original language of the NT means “to stir up, provoke, irritate, or exasperate. Another way to phrase Paul’s command is, ‘stop nagging your kids.’ Failure to obey this can cause children to ‘lose heart.’ Parents can take the heart out of their children by failing to discipline them lovingly and instruct them in the ways of the Lord with balance.”[25]

How can you embitter your child?[26]

  • You can embitter by overprotection. If you have too strict rules and don’t give them liberty to make mistakes.
  • You can embitter them by playing favourites with your children.
  • Your children may become bitter if you do not encourage them. If you regularly put down what they do, they become disheartened and withdrawn.
  • Some parents have unrealistic goals for their children. This may embitter them.
  • If you fail to show love to your children verbally and physically, they may grow bitter. Some boys may become touchy when parents try to show love by putting arms around them. Be sensitive to that.
  • You can embitter your children by criticism.
  • You may neglect your children and they become bitter.
  • Finally, you can embitter your children with excessive discipline that becomes abuse. This happens when you abuse your children verbally, emotionally or physically. Parents sometimes say things to their children that they would never say to anyone else. There is godly discipline of children (another subject for another time). But never discipline your children in anger, but lovingly correct them, just as your heavenly Father lovingly corrects you.[27]

That wraps up the S-L-O-NE Christian family:

S = submit to your husband.

L = love your wife.

O = obey your parents.

NE = never embitter your children.

III. Conclusion

What are the essentials of the family?

  • Heterosexual – mother and father – and not homosexual;
  • Marriage and not defacto;
  • One woman for one man until death of one of them;
  • Wives: submit to husbands;
  • Husbands: love their wives;
  • Children: obey their parents;
  • Parents: never embitter their children.

I conclude with this comment by Ray Stedman:

‘I know it is popular to make jokes about bossy wives and henpecked husbands, but having observed the marriage scene for [a] considerable time and having personal involvement in it, I would say the problem is not so much due to the demand of wives to assert leadership as it is the refusal of husbands to assume their responsibilities’.[28]

What would happen to this church, to this town and district in Queensland, and our country of Australia, if all Christian families lived this way?

Pray for Christian families.

Prayer by Suzanna Wesley[29]
mother of John and Charles, founders of Methodism

You, O Lord, have called us to watch and pray.
Therefore, whatever may be the sin against which we pray,
make us careful to watch against it, and so have reason to expect that our prayers will be answered.

In order to perform this duty aright,
grant us grace to preserve a sober, equal temper,
and sincerity to pray for your assistance. Amen.

Suzanna Wesley had seventeen children, but is said to have given each of them one day of special attention and training per month. From John’s writings we know that both he and brother Charles Wesley viewed their mother as a vital source of inspiration and encouragement for their ministries.

Oh Happy Home

v. 1

Oh happy home, where You are loved the dearest,

You loving Friend and Saviour of our race,

And where among the guests we’ve never sighted

One who can hold such high and honoured place!

v. 2

Oh happy home, whose little ones are given

Early to You, in humble faith and prayer,

To You, their Friend, Who from the heights of heaven

Guides them, and guards with more than parents’ care!

v. 3

Oh happy home, where each one serves You, lowly,

Whatever his appointed work may be,

Till every common task seems great and holy,

When it is done, O Lord, as unto Thee.

v. 4

Until at last, when earth’s day’s work is ended,

All meet You in the blessed home above,

From where You came, to where You have ascended,

Your everlasting home of peace and love!

Carl Johann Philipp Spitta, 1833, tr. Mrs Sarah Laurie Findlater, 1858, altd. Tune: O Perfect Love


[1] Copyright 1987-2006, William D. Blake. Used by permission of the author, from ‘Almanac of the Christian Church’, available as emailer from: “In this day in history” at: [email protected] (Accessed 6 April 2006)

[2] Available at: The Australian Christian Lobby website at: (Accessed 7 April 2006).

[3] The ABS called it “marriage.”

[4] Australian Bureau of Statistics, “1301.0 – Year Book Australia, 2005,” released 21/01/2005, Available at:[email protected]/94713ad445ff1425ca25682000192af2/992C91E65FB38B66CA256F7200832F7E?opendocument (Accessed 7 April 2006).

[5] Ibid. (Accessed 7April 2006).

[6] Hendriksen, W. 1964, Colossians & Philemon (New Testament Commentary), The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, p. 164.

[7] Based on ibid., p. 17.

[8] John MacArthur Jr. 1992, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Colossians & Philemon, Moody Press, Chicago, p. 167.

[9] Fergus Kerr, 2006, Lead Book Review, ‘A joyful dependence: Powerless before God’, a review of Sarah Coakley, Powers and Submissions: Spirituality, Philosophy and Gender, Blackwell Publishers Ltd., Oxford, UK. Available at: (Accessed 10 October 2010).

[10] Peter T. O’Brien 1982, Word Biblical Commentary: Colossians, Philemon, vol. 44 (gen eds David A. Hubbard & Glenn W. Barker) , Word Books, Publisher, Waco, Texas, p. 221.

[11] Based on MacArthur 1992, p. 168.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Robertson A. T. 1931, Word Pictures in the New Testament: The Epistles of Paul, vol. 4, Broadman Press, Nashville, Tennessee, p. 506.

[14] Vaughan had “despot.”

[15] Vaughan, C. 1978, ‘Colossians’, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (vol. 11), gen ed F. E. Gaebelein, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 218.

[16] Based on Hendriksen, p. 169.

[17] Ibid.

[18] MacArthur Jr., p. 169.

[19] Vaughan, p. 218.

[20] Pikrainesthe.

[21] Vaughan, p. 218.

[22] MacArthur Jr., p. 169.

[23] MacArthur Jr., p. 170.

[24] Erethizo.

[25] MacArthur Jr., p. 171.

[26] Based on ibid., pp. 171-172.

[27] MacArthur Jr., p. 173.

[28] Stedman, Man the Initiator, pp. 78-79, cited in Cleveland McDonald 1975, Creating a Successful Christian Marriage, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 70.

[29] Available at: (Accessed 10 May 2006).


Copyright © 2006  Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 9 October 2015.

Whytehouse designs

Preach the Word: Expository Sermons

Bible and Wheat


By Spencer D Gear

In this article on my homepage, Can the Sermon Be Redeemed? I make a plea for all preachers (pastors and laity) to treat the biblical text with seriousness when they preach and teach.  When Paul urged Timothy to “preach the word”,that’s exactly what he meant for all preachers in the entire church age – preach the Word of God. Paul wrote to Timothy, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2 ESV).

I was somewhat startled when I was introduced by a person in my church to a visitor.  The church member said, “Spencer believes in preaching what the Bible states.”  She got my vision: “Preach the Word.”  This can be done through topical, Bible-based preaching, but I find the most suitable method is to preach my way through books of the Bible (Old and New Testaments).  This forces me to deal with controversial and even difficult passages.  It also requires me to preach all Bible doctrines, including the ones in which I am least conversant.  I have to deal with eschatology, predestination, free-will, baptism, gifts of the Spirit, and other controversial subjects.  God knew what he was up to when he commanded all preachers to “preach the Word.”

When you preach, don’t preach your own opinion.  Preach the text — preach the Word of God. Of course, the message proclaimed from the Scriptures needs to be illustrated and applied for a contemporary audience, but it must be based on a sound exegesis of the passage.

What is exegesis?  ”Exegesis is the process of interpreting a text of Scripture” (Grudem 1994, p. 109).  The problem any interpreter of the Bible faces is that “everyone who interprets a passage of the Bible stands in a present time while he examines a document that comes from a past time.  He must discover what each statement meant to the original speaker or writer, and to the original hearers or readers, in their own present time” (Mickelsen 1963, p. 55).  This is the process of exegesis.  It is critical for the understanding of any text written in the past.

If one wants to convey this message to a contemporary audience, the speaker engages in the discipline of exposition, but exegesis precedes exposition: “He must see what meaning these statements had in the past, but he must also show what is their meaning for himself and for those to whom he conveys these ideas” (Mickelsen 1963, p. 55).

For a number of years I have been convinced that many of my Australian preaching colleagues are more convinced by a purpose-driven, seeker-sensitive mentality than a biblical view of preaching.  Therefore, as I get time, I will format and upload more of my own expositions, praying that the Lord will use them for edification, growth and blessing.
If you want help in learning Bible exposition, I highly recommend this book that has been the most helpful for me in devoloping my skills as a preacher of the Word: Bryan Chapell 1994, 2005,
Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, 2nd edn, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I am by no means a Bryan Chapell purist, but this is the most helpful and practical book I have ever read on how to prepare expository messages with something that is unique to Chapell, in my understanding: “The Fallen Condition Focus.”

I must admit that I get bored and frustrated when I hear boring preachers who do not connect with God’s people. I was provoked by one such boring episode recently to write this article, “It’s a sin to bore God’s people with God’s word”.

Here are links to my expositions of Scripture. These are all based on messages I have preached at churches.


1 Peter


Works consulted

Grudem, W. 1994, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Mickelsen, A. B. 1963, Interpreting the Bible, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan.


Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 January 2014.