Anytime we are invited to a special event, one of our first questions is “What is the appropriate dress for the occasion?”
The command to “clothe yourselves” is a plural aorist imperative to bring out the command’s urgency. The verb is placed at the beginning of the original to emphasize how your behavior identifies you as a true believer.
Paul described the clothes of the “old man” (the typical preconversion dress) that believers are commanded to “put off,” including “anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another” (Col 3:8–-9). The “new man” is given a new knowledge (“experiential knowledge”) that teaches him not to make a distinction between race or social status within the church body (3:10–-11).
No legalistic or specific behavioral actions are commanded because we are expected to take the corporate principles and apply them to our individual situations. The church is to be characterized by “a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
We are to be merciful—-not quick to condemn, gossip, criticize, or ostracize one another. We choose to act in grace, favoring those who do not deserve it. In humility, we put the needs of others before our own and we choose not to be angry when others hurt us.
The plural command refers to body of believers as the “elect of God, holy and dearly loved.” Thus the church is the “elect of God.” Our identity in Christ is to be seen not individually but corporately as a “holy people.”
Peter writes, “You are a chosen people. You [pl.] are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you [pl.] can show others the goodness of God, for he called you [pl.] out of the darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet 2:9NLT).
All these instructions are given in the plural for the entire church and only secondarily to individuals as they are a part of a functioning body of believers. Are you helping your church fulfill this command?
“Lord, it is so hard to be like You. When people interfered with Your plans or offended Your righteousness, You were always gracious, kind, and patient. Make me more like You.”