3:1 If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is,
seated on the right hand of God.
3:2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not
on the things that are on the earth.
3:3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
3:4 When Christ, our life, is revealed,
then you will also be revealed with him in glory.
Putting off the Old Self
3:5 Put to death therefore your members which are
on the earth:
sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire,
and covetousness, which is idolatry;
3:6 for which things' sake the wrath of God comes on the
children of disobedience.
3:7 You also once walked in those, when you lived in them;
3:8 but now you also put them all away:
anger, wrath, malice, slander, and shameful speaking out of your
3:9 Don't lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the
old man with his doings,
Putting on the New Self
3:10 and have put on the new man, that is being renewed in
knowledge after the image of his Creator,
3:11 where there can't be Greek and Jew, circumcision and
barbarian, Scythian, bondservant, freeman; but Christ is all,
and in all.
3:12 Put on therefore, as God's chosen ones,
holy and beloved,
a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and
3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other,
if any man has a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave
you, so you also do.
3:14 Above all these things, walk in love, which is the bond
3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts,
to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly;
in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another
with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in
your heart to the Lord.
3:17 Whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the
Father, through him.
3:18 Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as
is fitting in the Lord.
3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and don't be
bitter against them.
3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things,
for this pleases the Lord.
3:21 Fathers, don't provoke your children, so
that they won't be discouraged.
3:22 Servants, obey in all things those who are
your masters according to the flesh,
not just when they are looking, as men-pleasers, but in
singleness of heart, fearing God.
3:23 And whatever you do, work heartily, as for
the Lord, and not for men,
3:24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of
for you serve the Lord Christ.
3:25 But he who does wrong will receive again for the wrong
that he has done,
and there is no partiality.
vs 1,2 What things are above, which we should set our minds on?
vs 3 In what ways have you died?
vs 5-9 If we have died, then why must we still put to death our
What is distinct about the list in vs 8 compared with that in vs 5?
vs 9 Why do people lie to one another?
Why in vs 11 does he seem to say that there is no distinction
between slave and free and yet in vs 22 and 4:1 he makes a
distinction between these two? What about gender differences?
vs 12 What if you simply don't feel these things? Should you just
kind of fake it?
vs 13 In what ways may we be challenged to bear with other
vs 16 What is "the word of Christ? And how might you let it dwell in
vs 18-22 Compare the commands given to wives, children and slaves.
What similarities do you see?
How do they differ from those give to husbands, fathers and masters
How would you categorize the roles between these two sets of people?
And how would you resolve the apparent contradiction with the idea
of there being equality in Christ?
vs 23-25 How does Paul encourage those living under slavery?
How does Paul's concept of "working for the Lord" differ from that
of popular institutional Christianity?
vs 24 How do you resolve the contradiction between "reward for
services rendered" and salvation as a free gift?
Mind Heavenly Things
Col 3:1,2Since, then, you have been
raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ
is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things
above, not on earthly things.
"set your hearts" is literally "to
seek in order to find out by thinking, meditating, reasoning, to
enquire into", which is the same word Jesus used in the
phrase: "Seek first his
kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given
to"you as well."Mt 6:33 Which ties in with verse
2 "set your minds on things above".
Much of the Christian life is a mental exercise. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of
this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then
you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good,
pleasing and perfect will."Rom 12:2
In Chapter 1 Paul prayed that they would be filled with the
knowledge of God's will. It is by the knowledge of God that the
Christian is transformed, as also he says in vs 10"being renewed in knowledge in the
image of its Creator."
But what are "the things above" which we should be setting our
Abstract concepts such as love, justice, holiness, grace, and
other attributes of God from which we can formulate praise and
What then would be earthly things?
Sensual lusts, greed, pride, covetousness.
Col 3:3,4 For you died, and your life is
now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life,
appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
You who are in Christ have in fact died already. Jesus said, "whoever hears my word and
believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be
condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."John 5:24 How concerned are
dead people with worldly affairs? "What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now
on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those
who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they
were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to
keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed
in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. I
would like you to be free from concern."1Cor 7:29-32
Furthermore Christ is our life, as Paul says, "I have been crucified with
Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I
live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved
me and gave himself for me."Gal 2:20 And John says, "Now we are children of God; and it has not yet
been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is
revealed, we shall be like Him" 1John 3:2a
Crucify the Flesh
Col 3:5,6Put to death, therefore, whatever
belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust,
evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the
wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience.
Or as Galatians puts it, "Those who belong
to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its
passions and desires." Gal 5:24
This is an example of the kinds of commands found in the New
Testament letters. Note it does tell us how to put such things to
death, but just to do it. For the Christian life is not a matter
of technique, but rather a matter of walking in the Spirit. And
those who belong to Christ gravitate to doing what is right.
This list is not comprehensive. We find similar lists in 1Cor 6:9,10; Eph 5:3-5 and Gal 5:19-21 In fact this verse
is largely paralleled in Eph 5:5"No immoral, impure or greedy
person— such a man is an idolater— has any inheritance in the
kingdom of Christ and of God." Though, much as the
depraved may not recognize sin for what it is, Paul simply writes,
"The acts of the sinful
nature are obvious:" Gal
5:19, and as such I shouldn't have to elaborate upon
these categories. Though twice he mentions that greed is a form of
idolatry. Thus many today who despise idols and consider idolatry
largely relegated to ancient times, yet they themselves may in
fact be idolators in loving money and coveting things. In fact "the love of money is a root of
all kinds of evil."1Tim
But the Christian thinks of money and possessions more along
these lines: The more you have, the more you will be held
accountable for. And furuthermore, the more you have, the more you
will have to spend time, energy and resources to maintain. Sin
enslaves, so what good is it? Sin brings wrath, so why value it?
Wrath is not our destiny. Those of us who are children of God.
Rather it's the destiny of the sons of disobedience.
Control Your Tongue
Col 3:7,8You used to walk in these ways, in
the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all
such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy
language from your lips.
Notice he says, "used to".
Such is not the case for those who have been born of God, seeing
as regeneration changes one's behavior. Likewise Paul gives a list
of sins in 1Cor 6:9,10 but goes on to say, "And that is what some of you were. But you
were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name
of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
Once again he's indicating that they no longer live a lifestyle of
sin, even though they had prior to their conversion.
But as indicated by verse 8, while we don't live a lifestyle of
sin, we are not rid of sin altogether. Though we don't walk in it,
we trip over it from time to time. The first three, anger, rage
and malice have to do with one's temper, temperament, or
disposition. These tend to particularly come to light under
stress. Likewise it says in Eph
4:31"Get rid of
all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with
every form of malice."
Slander and fithy language have to do with speech. Difficult to
tame to the tongue. James writes, "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not
keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his
religion is worthless." Jam
1:26 and "The
tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the
body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his
life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of
animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being
tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the
tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison." Jam 3:6-8
Tell the Truth
Col 3:9,10 Do not lie to each
other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices
and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in
knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Ephesians follows suit, "You were taught, with regard to your former way
of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by
its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your
minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in
true righteousness and holiness." Eph 4:22-24
Our perspective is not that we are the same person we once were,
but merely with a changed behavior, rather, having been born of
God, we change our behavior because we are a different person. For "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
the old has gone, the new has come!" 2Cor 5:17 And
"we know that our old self was crucified
with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that
we should no longer be slaves to sin." Rom 6:6
And as our dwelling place is with God, we value truth. "LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may
live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does
what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart."
There are a number of reasons why people lie, but primarily for
personal gain, as in false advertisement. Proverbs say, "better to be poor than a liar." Pr
19:22b And if not lying per se people also use words to
mislead others. Or even mislead themselves. For The man who says, "I know God," but does
not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him."
1John 2:4 Or "If anyone says, 'I
love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar." 1John
Likewise there are those who misuse the Word of God, either
reading into it ideas which God did not intend, or even adding to
it. But "Every word of God is flawless; he
is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his
words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar." Pr
While lying may be a common practice in society, it should not be
so for the children of God. For "The
cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually
immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and
all liars— their place will be in the fiery lake of
burning sulfur." Rev 21:8
Rid Yourself of Prejudice
Col 3:11 Here there is no Greek
or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave
or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
This is not to say there are no differences of role among the
body of Christ. For such is affirmed abundantly in these letters
to the churches. In fact a few verses later in this very chapter
he will begin to speak categorically of differing roles within the
But with respect to salvation status, there should be no
prejudice, seeing as all in Christ are equally children of God.
Indeed this was a great challenge in the early church,
particularly with regards to the prejudice Jews had for Gentiles -
a prejudice which was even evident in apostles such as Peter, even
while a leader of the church at Jerusalem.
The Christian's identity is not to be determined by their ethnic
or cultural background or secular status. Therefore Christians
should be rid of all their prejudices. What cultural prejudices
were you exposed to in your upbringing? Was your race a factor in
determining what church you would attend?
Clothe Yourself with Christ
Col 3:12,13 Therefore, as God’s
chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with
compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear
with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have
against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And again Ephesians follows suit. "Be kind
and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as
in Christ God forgave you." Eph 4:32 And Peter
says, "Finally, all of you, live in harmony
with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be
compassionate and humble." 1Peter 3:8
As it's human nature that familiarity breeds contempt, it's
generally more challenging to get along with those close to us
than strangers. But what helps primarily is looking out for the
best interest of others, which is love. Getting along with other
Christians should be as much a priority as getting rid of one's
own personal sin.
In one sense one can expect Christians to be more virtuous than
the world, due to the effect of regeneration. Of the world Paul
writes, "there is no one who shows
kindness, there is not even one."
Rom 3:12 (NRSV) "Kindness" there is the same word
used here, which is expected of Christians. Yet the fact that
these verses speak of forgiveness implies that one should not
expect other Christians to be perfect in order to get along with
them. In fact some falsely align themselves with the Christian
community to exploit Christians for their goodness, but show their
true colors when Christians don't meet their personal selfish
expectations. Yet such false brethren are also those we must bear
in love, so that they may be saved. And a generous person must
tolerate being exploited from time to time. But perhaps the most
essential, the most foundational of all character qualities is
humility. All other virtues are a reflection of one's humility.
Put On Love
Col 3:14 And over all these
virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect
If humility is the foundation (if abasement be found in a basement),
then love is the roof, the pinnacle of all virtues. It is over all
other virtues. But being the roof it is developed more fully later.
That is particularly reflected in one's spiritual maturity. The
immature may compartmentalize their Christian life. But through
love, the mature integrate Christian virtues into all of life.
Earlier Paul spoke of his struggles for them and went on to say, "My purpose is that they may be encouraged in
heart and united in love" Col 2:2 So also it says,
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient,
bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the
unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Eph
With hatred comes discord, but with love unity. The fact that
love is a command here and elsewhere in the letters indicates is not
simply a preference but rather takes an intentional effort on our
part to achieve.
Be At Peace
Col 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule
in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to
peace. And be thankful.
We first have peace with God though our faith in Christ and His
atoning work on the cross, which ended the hostile relationship
between us and God whereby we were enemies. "Once
you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because
of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s
physical body through death." Col 1:21,22a And
"therefore, since we have been justified
through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus
Christ" Rom 5:1
Consequently we can have peace of mind. "Be
for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with
thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the
peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your
hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Php 4:6,7
And also we are at peace with our fellow saints, being of a common
family, and sharing a common purpose and destiny. And "if it is possible, as far as it depends on you,
live at peace with everyone." Rom 5:1 And along
with peace, thankfulness, with it be to God or others.
Dwell in the Word
Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ
dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all
wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with
gratitude in your hearts to God.
What was the primary cause of the corruption of the early church
which turned it into Catholicism? Largely the neglect of the
scriptures. If you read the early Christian writers you will find
that the use of scripture became increasingly neglected in the
second and third centuries until it was largely replaced with man
made heresies. And the institution that arose around such
corruption, namely Catholicism, not only took away scripture from
people, which accounts for the large ignorance of scripture
historically among Catholics, but also refused to allow itself to be
scrutinized, and thus Christianity became entrenched in its
heresies. And likely under such conditions, few were saved, for "faith comes from hearing the message, and the
message is heard through the word of Christ." Rom 10:17
Paul instructed Timothy, "Preach the Word; be
prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and
encourage— with great patience and careful instruction. For the
time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a
great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to
hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside
to myths." 2Tim 4:2-4
Apart from application oriented Bible study, you cannot be called a
disciple of Christ, for Jesus said to those
Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My
disciples indeed." John 8:31 And it is through the word of God that we are born
again,. "For you have been born again, not of
perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and
enduring word of God." 1Peter 1:23
And as reading stirs up the mind, singing can stir up the spirit.
"Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. "Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord."
Eph 5:19 We sing about those things which resonate with our
spirit. Apparently the spirit of world resonates around sexual
passion, as such is the theme of most worldly music. What music
resonates with your spirit? As for content it is interesting to note
that while traditional hymns are filled with doctrine, modern
Christian music, due to cultural influence, focusses on how
you feel. Problem with that is that such a focus can overshadow
right doctrine. Rejoicing in how you feel is not the same as
rejoicing in the truth.
Col 3:17 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.
A godly life is one is which you keep God in mind in whatever you so
or say. "And He died for all, that those who
live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for
them and was raised again." 2Cor 5:15 Since we
belong to Christ whatever we do or say reflects on Him, on His
reputation. Your reputation reflects on His reputation. Let us also
be characterized by thankfulness to God, "who
richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."1Tim
6:17b So "always give thanks to God the
Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
As such there is no real division between the secular and spiritual
in the Christian life, much as some have been trained to
compartmentalize their Christian life. Consequently this verse
segues into a section on basically on being a Christian at home and
Col 3:18 Wives, submit to your
husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Or as it says in Eph 5:22-24 "Wives,
the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the
head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as
the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their
husbands in everything."
The wife's submission to her husband is a reflection of her
submission to Christ, or lack thereof. There should be no question
as to who is to be the boss in the Christian community, namely
Christ. Nor should there be any question as to who is to be the boss
in the family. There's a beauty in the wife's submission. "In former times, the holy women who trusted in
God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own
husbands." 1Peter 3:5 And conversely there's an
ugliness to a wife who is bossy, contentious and quarelsome. "Better to live on a corner of the roof than
share a house with a quarrelsome wife." Pr 25:24
And just as it is fitting for wives to embrace their subordinate
role in the marriage, as also the church should in its relationship
with Christ, and as Christ Himself did in relationship with His
Father, so also contentious women are not fit to be wives.
And this should be a serious consideration when deciding whether to
get married. For to become the bride of Christ one must acknowledge
Christ as Lord. So also the woman must agree to the godly role
assigned her in marriage. Else she should remain single. Indeed the
Christian marriage vows themselves affirm this point. For among the
wife's vows is to obey her husband, whereas the husband doesn't take
such a vow as it would be ungodly for a husband to play the
subordinate role in marriage.
"Who can find a virtuous wife? For her
worth is far above rubies." Pr 31:10 Virtuous wives
are both rare and valuable. Conversely wives lacking virtue are
common and of little value. Indeed such a man would be better off
single if he finds not a virtuous wife.
Husbands, be Gracious
Col 3:19 Husbands, love your
wives and do not be harsh with them.
Peter elaborates on this, "Husbands, in the
same way be sconsiderate as you live with your wives, and treat
them with respect as the weaker partner" 1Peter 3:7a
In viritually every manner women are weaker than men. Consequently
Men should not hold women to the same standard as to men. Feminists,
both among men and women, tend to violate this principle. For when
women are treated like men, they can't take it. Men, for example,
have a characteristic humility not characteristic of women. Men can
take criticism which women cannot take. In fact men often appreciate
their friends helping them maintain a proper level of humility by
criticizing them. But the pride of women is too delicate. They take
offense too easily due to pride.
Consequently men need to consider this and other issues concerning
the weakness of their wife in relating with them considerately. To
treat them with respect one must hold them to a lower standard,
lowering one's expectations so that any inkling of virtue may be
However, despite the weak ego, husbands are to help their wives deal
with sin. "Husbands, love your
wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through
the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church,
without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and
blameless."Eph 5:24-27 For
as Christ considerately points out sin and consequently sanctifies
us, so also are husbands to instruct their wives from the Bible with
a view toward removing any unholiness.
Col 3:20Children, obey your parents in
everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Notice Paul here is speaking directly to children. He doesn't say - "you parents, teach your children to
obey", but rather he speaks directly to children. Thus
these New Testament letters are intended to be read by everyone -
Or as he said elsewhere,
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother,'
which is the first commandment with promise: 'that it may be well with you and
you may live long on the earth.'"(Deut 5:16)Eph 6:1-3 The promise is a
truism. Conversely, it is also a truism that it does not go well
with rebellious children.
"Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a
willing party to his death."Pr 19:18
Notice through this section that Paul is speaking of "vertical
relationships". For in each case he speaks of those subordinate to
authority and those in authority over them. And to summarize, those
under authority are to obey those in authority, and those in
authority are to exercise grace towards those under their authority.
Wives and children are both in roles of subordination. In fact
children learn submission from their mother in her compliance to her
husband, and they learn leadership from their father in his role of
leadership. Conversely rebellious children and women usurping
authority over men go hand in hand. In Isaiah 3:12 God says of His people, "As for My people, children are
their oppressors, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who
lead you cause you to err, And destroy the way of your paths."
So mothers, don't expect your children to practice subordination to
you any more than you do towards your husband.
Fathers, be Gracious
Col 3:21Fathers, do not embitter your
children, or they will become discouraged.
Or as it says in Ephesians, "Fathers,
not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the
training and instruction of the Lord."Eph 6:4
Notice that whether in role of husband or father, the man is
instructed to be gracious. Previously I mentioned that husbands need
to be lenient towards their wife, not holding them to the same
standard as they may hold themselves to. So also with regards to
their role as father. Don't be overbearing. Don't be strict beyond
what is called for. Better yet to temper discipline with
encouragement, praise and personal involvement.
Yet fathers are instructed to "manage his own
family well and see that his children obey him with proper
respect." 1Timn 3:4 It is the father who is
the manager of the family. The mother is in a sense is first officer
- carrying out the principles he lays down, his vision for the
family. Both as a father and as a husband, the man is to be treated
with proper respect, being the authority figure in both
relationships. But while the role itself is to be respect, fathers
also need to earn respect as individuals, setting the example. For
example it says, "Deacons, likewise, are to
be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and
not pursuing dishonest gain." 1Tim 3:8 Being worthy
of respect by setting the example will open children up to being
instructed and disciplined.
Col 3:22-25 Slaves, obey your earthly
masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on
you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and
reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your
heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that
you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is
the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will
be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.
Ephesians says almost the same exact thing:
Eph 6:5-8 Slaves, obey your earthly
masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just
as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor
when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the
will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were
serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will
reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or
Paul instructs Titus, "Teach slaves to be
subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not
to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that
they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the
teaching about God our Savior attractive." Titus 2:9,10
Is such compliance only to be exercised towards good employers, good
husbands, good fathers? "Slaves, submit
yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who
are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh."
1Pet 2:18 And "Wives, in the
same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do
not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the
behavior otheir wives, when they see the purity and reverence of
your lives." 1Peter 3:1,2