A Root Passage

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
— Colossians 3:17

This is one of my favorite passages in Scripture. We find it nestled within a chapter describing holy living. Having laid out Jesus Christ’s power (He’s God!), necessity (the Gospel!), and victory (He defeated death!) in the previous two chapters, Paul transitions the reader to some logical conclusions. In chapter three we see Paul begin with these words, “If then you have been raised with Christ” (3:1a). With belief in Jesus as the foundation, he goes on to encourage believers to do away with sin (5-10), to seek unity with others in love (11, 14-15), and to strengthen holy living (12-13, 16). It’s in this context that we come to v. 17 of the passage.

This verse is what I like to call a root passage of Scripture. As we study the Bible more and more, we begin to see the vast interconnectedness of God’s Word. Root passages reveal this interconnectedness in an even more obvious fashion because of their far-reaching and all-encompassing truths. If you’ve ever seen a picture of a tree’s root system, you know what I mean. Typically, the rule of thumb for a tree’s root system is that it reaches as far down as the tree is tall. Thus, these root passages of Scripture reach far (informing many other texts), hold other passages up (in a clearer light), and typically help Christians with big picture applications for their lives.

Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. When one begins to ponder on the inclusiveness of this statement, it can be quite overwhelming. There is no figurative language here. Literally, whatever you are doing should be done in the name of Jesus. This principle is such a help in living the Christian life. It doesn’t mean TV, sports, and other hobbies are off limits. In fact, this root passage helps us do these things in a right way. It’s the litmus test to show us whether we’re doing things rightly. Can you do “whatever you [are] do[ing]” in the name of the Lord Jesus? What a freeing concept! What a help! It’s like playing basketball on top of a ten-story building. Without any walls, if the ball is rolling towards the edge, I’m gonna’ let that thing go. With walls, if the ball is doing the same thing, I can have no fear in playing all out and diving for the ball. When we begin to decipher whether we can do things in the name of Jesus, we can “go all out” as it were without any fear! Praise God! This conclusion to praise God is found within Colossians 3:17.

Giving thanks to God the Father through Him. As we live our lives as this verse implies (seeking to do all things in the name of Jesus), we can’t help but remember that it is God the Father who knew and loved us before we even existed on this planet! It is God the Father who has revealed to us the means of salvation in His son, Jesus Christ. And so we praise God! We praise Him on Sundays in worship, we praise Him by seeking His will through studying His Word, and we praise Him in holy living. We do these things not to save ourselves but because we have been saved. This is the Good News that we proclaim to others in word and deed!

Remember this verse this spring.  Hold it close to your heart. Memorize it if possible. And in so doing, may we praise God on Sunday as well as Monday through Saturday.