5. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
5. Mortificate igitur membra vestra, quae sunt super terram, scortationem, immunditiem, mollitiem, concupiscentiam malam, et avaritiam, quae est idololatria.
6. For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
6. Propter quae venit ira Dei in filios inobedientiae;
7. In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
7. In quibus vos quoque ambulabatis aliquando, quum viveretis in illis.
8. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
8. Nunc autem deponite et vos omnia, iram, indignationem, malitiam, maledicentiam, turpiloquentiam ex ore vestro.
5. Mortify therefore. Hitherto he has been speaking of contempt of the world. He now proceeds further, and enters upon a higher philosophy, as to the mortification of the flesh. That this may be the better understood, let us take notice that there is a twofold mortification. The former relates to those things that are around us. Of this he has hitherto treated. The other is inward -- that of the understanding and will, and of the whole of our corrupt nature. He makes mention of certain vices which he calls, not with strict accuracy, but at the same time elegantly, members. For he conceives of our nature as being, as it were, a mass made up of different vices. They are, therefore, our members, inasmuch as they in a manner stick close to us. He calls them also earthly, alluding to what he had said -- not the things that are on earth, (Colossians 3:2,) but in a different sense. |I have admonished you, that earthly things are to be disregarded: you must, however, make it your aim to mortify those vices which detain you on the earth.| He intimates, however, that we are earthly, so long as the vices of our flesh are vigorous in us, and that we are made heavenly by the renewing of the Spirit.
After fornication he adds uncleanness, by which term he expresses all kinds of wantonness, by which lascivious persons pollute themselves. To these is added, pathos that is, lust, which includes all the allurements of unhallowed desire. This term, it is true, denotes mental perturbations of other kinds, and disorderly motions contrary to reason; but lust is not an unsuitable rendering of this passage. As to the reason why covetousness is here spoken of as a worshipping of images, consult the Epistle to the Ephesians, that I may not say the same thing twice.
6. On account of which things the wrath of God cometh. I do not find fault with the rendering of Erasmus -- solet venire -- (is wont to come,) but as the present tense is often taken in Scripture instead of the future, according to the idiom of the Hebrew language, I have preferred to leave the rendering undecided, so that it might be accommodated to either meaning. He warns the Colossians, then, either of the ordinary judgments of God, which are seen daily, or of the vengeance which he has once denounced upon the wicked, and which impends over them, but will not be manifested until the last day. I willingly, however, admit the former meaning -- that God, who is the perpetual Judge of the world, is accustomed to punish the crimes in question.
He says, however, expressly, that the wrath of God will come, or is wont to come, upon the unbelieving or disobedient, instead of threatening them with anything of this nature. For God would rather that we should see his wrath upon the reprobate, than feel it in ourselves. It is true, that when the promises of grace are set before us, every one of the pious ought to embrace them equally as though they were designed for himself particularly; but, on the other hand, let us dread the threatenings of wrath and destruction in such a manner, that those things which are suitable for the reprobate, may serve as a lesson to us. God, it is true, is often said to be angry even with his children, and sometimes chastens their sins with severity. Paul speaks here, however, of eternal destruction, of which a mirror is to be seen only in the reprobate. In short, whenever God threatens, he shews, as it were, indirectly the punishment, that, beholding it in the reprobate, we may be deterred from sinning.
7. In which ye walked. Erasmus mistakingly refers this to men, rendering it, |inter quos,| (|among whom,|) for there can be no doubt that Paul had in view the vices, in which he, says that the Colossians had walked, during the time that they lived in them. For living and walking differ from each other, as power does from action. Living holds the first place: walking comes afterwards, as in Galatians 5:25,
If ye live in the SPIRIT, WALK also in the Spirit.
By these words he intimates, that it were an unseemly thing that they should addict themselves any more to the vices, to which they had died through Christ. See the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. It is an argument from a withdrawment of the cause to a withdrawment of the effect.
8. But now -- that is, after having ceased to live in the flesh. For the power and nature of mortification are such, that all corrupt affections are extinguished in us, lest sin should afterwards produce in us its wonted fruits. What I have rendered indignationem, (indignation,) is in the Greek thumos -- a term, which denotes a more impetuous passionateness than orge, (anger.) Here, however, he enumerates, as may easily be perceived, forms of vice that were different from those previously mentioned.