Colossians Translation & Notes


Paul’s Letter to the Colossians
Greeting (1:1-2)1
1:1 Paul an apostle2 of Christ Jesus through the will of God and Timothy3 the brother 2 to the holy ones4 in Colossae and faithful brothers in Christ; grace to you and peace5 from God our father

Thanksgiving: Faith-love-hope and the Gospel (1:3-8)
3 We6 thank7 God the father of our lord Jesus Christ at all times8 concerning you in our prayers9 4 hearing10 of your faith11 in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the holy ones


Outline from O’Brien, Peter T (1982, Word Biblical Commentary)


Paul identifies himself as an apostle in nine of his letters (Rom 1:1; 1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:1; Col 1:1; 1 Tim 1:1; 2 Tim 1:1; Titus 1:1)

Timothy is listed in the openings of 2 Cor 1:1 and Phil 1:1 and also with Silvanus in 1 Thess 1:1 and 2 Thess 1:1. This does not mean that Timothy was a co-author; it’s possible that Paul included him to show that he was not alone in his imprisonment.

BDAG: believers, loyal followers, saints, of Christians as consecrated to God. Paul uses the term at the beginning of 1 Cor 1:2, 2 Cor 1:1, Eph 1:1, Phil 1:1, and Col 1:2. While he does not use the word “church” this is a little significance since in 1 Cor 1:2 he calls them “the church at Corinith,” and in 2 Cor 1:1 he calls them “holy ones.”

Some of suggested that “grace and peace” was a type of signature for Paul as it appears thirteen of his letters.

Paul does not say we because of distance, but rather because he has already mentioned Timothy being with him in the previous verse.

It was common practice in letter writing of the time to thank the gods for the recipient.


This is not saying that Paul does nothing but pray all day, rather, that when he prays (typical Jewish custom was twice a day) he remembered to mention the Colossians.

Wuest (1973, p172) notes: “{Prayer} is never used of petitions to man. The prefixed preposition pros gives it the idea of definiteness and directness in prayer, with the consciousness on the part of the one praying that he is talking face to face with God.”

He is most likely referring to the report that would have come from Epaphras (v8).


Faith, love, and hope are a common theme of the Christian life and is found throughout the New Testament and early church fathers. O’Brien suggests that it “may have derived from Jesus himself. This passage could then represent Paul’s own exegesis of the triad.” (O’Brien 1982, p11)

Colossians Translation & Notes 5 because of the hope you laid up12 in store in the heavens that you heard before hand in the word of truth, the gospel13



BDAG: to reserve as award or recompense, reward. It was a common term in honorary documents expressing appreciation sense of civic or other communal responsibility. The “hope” is the totality of blessing that awaits the Christian in the life to come.

Paul here links the gospel message with the actual words of God and it is best understood within the Old Testament understanding that the “word of truth” is part of his character. As such it is completely reliable (Ps 119:43)

Colossians Translation & Notes


6 having14 come to you, just as also in all15 the world it is bearing16 fruit and growing, just as also in you, from the day you heard17 and knew the grace of God in truth 7 just as you learned18 from Epaphras19 our beloved servant, that he is faithful over you as a servant20 of Christ 8 and has made known21 to us your love in the Spirit22

An Intercession for Knowledge and Godly Conduct (1:9-14)
9 Because of this23 also we, from this day heard24, have not ceased to pray concerning you and to ask that your knowledge25 be completed in all wisdom26 and spiritual understanding


In contrast with the false teachers, the readers had heard the message of the gospel first.


Paul is not saying that the entire world has heard the gospel, but rather that wherever in the world the gospel is proclaimed, it is bearing fruit.

The middle here suggests that the gospel is bearing fruit of itself. The usage of the aorist points to the specific day that they heard the gospel



BDAG: to come to a realization, with implication of taking place less through instruction than experience or practice.

Only mentioned here and in Phlm 23, all we know is that he was a faithful minister of the gospel, and that he most likely shared in one of Paul’s imprisonments.

BDAG: one who serves as an intermediary in a transaction, agent, courier. This is fitting for someone who carries the gospel as they are couriers of Christ.

Epaphras must have given a report to Paul about the state of the church, and especially mentioned the love that they shared in the Spirit.

Paul is referring to the love that Christians have for one another, unlike the love that is found in the world.

The nearest antecedent is the Colossians love, though the faith-hope-love may be in mind.


Just as the he brings the specific date of the Colossians conversion to mind, he informs them that as soon as he heard about them he continually prayed for them.

This is the second mention of “knowledge” within this short section. Unlike the previous usage however Paul’s desire is that they actually grow in their understanding, and that this knowledge should be “complete.”

BDAG: the capacity to understand and function accordingly.

Colossians Translation & Notes 10 walking worthy27 of the lord, to please28 [him], in every good work bearing fruit and growing29 [in/by] the knowledge of God


11 in all power enabled according to the strength30 of his glory in all endurance and patience.31 With joy32 12 give thanks to the father who made you sufficient33 to the portion of the lot of the holy ones34 in the light 13 he has delivered us35 out of the authority of darkness and changed36 us into the kingdom of his holy son37 14 in him we hold38 to the release39, the release from sin

Christ the Lord in Creation and Redemption (1:15-20)
1540 He is the image41 of the invisible God, first-born42 of all creation

Three times in his letters Paul encourages his readers to walk worthily. Here, walking is closely linked with the knowledge and wisdom of the previous verse. Thus the purpose of the knowledge was to result in right conduct.

BDAG: desire to do something that produces satisfaction. Rogers (1998, p460) says “According to the teaching of the Dead Sea community, those who walked according to the spirit of truth will walk pleasing before God.”

The dative here could be either locative (in) or instrumental (by).


Rogers (1998, p460): “Here strength refers to the might which is characteristic of his glory.”

O’Brien (1982, p24): “Because of God’s dealing with his people this word, which was not very significant in secular Greek, was given a new and unexpectedly profound importance, so that the human attitude of ‘long-suffering’ is now set in a new light.”

This should be more closely associated with the “give thanks” of the proceeding verse. BDAG: to cause to be adequate, make sufficient, qualify.



All of the references within this book relate to those redeemed by God. Thus we should understand this as a reference to the inheritance allotted to God’s people (O’Brien 1982, p 26).

Paul applies this delivery not only to the Colossian Christians but to all who have been saved.

Rogers (1998, p460): “The word is often used to signify deportation of a body of men or the removal of them to form a colony.”

A possessive genitive. Lit. “the kingdom belonging to the son” BDAG: to possess or contain, have, own.



BDAG: release from a captive condition, release, redemption, deliverance. A figurative extension of the original use in connection with manumission of captives or slaves.

Colossians Translation & Notes 16 that in him43 everything was created in the heavens and upon the earth the visible and the invisible whether thrones or whether lordship whether beginnings, whether authority everything through him and in him was created 17 and he is before all things and all things in him were established44 18 and he is the head45 of the body of the church he is the beginning first-born46 from the dead that in everything he might become first place47 19 that in him all the fullness48 was pleased to inhabit 20 and through him reconciled49 all things in him making peace through the blood of his cross



Verses 15-20 are most likely part of an early Christian hymn.


Rogers (1998, p461): “In Greek thought an image shares in reality what it represents. Christ is the perfect likeness of God. The word contains the idea of representation and manifestation. The word also points to his revealing the Father and his pre-existence.” O’Brien (1982, p43): “The very nature and character of God have been perfectly revealed in him; in him the invisible has become visible.”

There are those that would like to read into this verse the creation of Jesus. That he was the first to be created and thus holds a special position because of that fact. However that is not what the verse is saying; rather Paul is asserting the pre-existence of Christ, and demonstrating his uniqueness.

That is: within the sphere of Christ. It is within this sphere that all of creation has been created.

BDAG: to bring into existence in an organized manner, put together, constitute, establish, prepare.

Eph 5:23 This possibly forms an inclusio going back to verse 15 (“the first-born of all creation”).



BDAG: to hold the highest rank in a group. Suggested translation: that he might come to have first place in everything.

Rogers (1998, p461): “the word denotes completeness and was used for a ship’s crew. It could refer either to the totality of the divine powers and attributes or perhaps better to the fullness of saving grace and power which belongs to one constituted as savior.”

BDAG: the universe is to form a unity, which as its goal in Christ

Colossians Translation & Notes [through him] whether upon the earth whether in the heavens


Reconciliation Accomplished and Applied (1:21-23)
21 And you once were estranged50 and hostile in thought in bad51 works 22but now reconciled52 in the body of his flesh through death presenting you holy and without blemish53 and blameless54 right before him 23 if indeed55 you stay faithful to the foundation56 and steadfast57 and not move away from the hope of the gospel that you heard, proclaimed in all creation58 by the heaven, of which I Paul became a minister


Or “alienated;” the perfect passive gives a sense of settledness. This of course was our former condition, one which Paul notes that the Colossians were also included with.

BDAG: pertaining to being morally or socially worthless, wicked, evil, bad, base, vicious, degenerate. The hostility and the bad works seem to be linked together and are all in the dative case.

ἀποκαταλλάσσω is only found within Christian writers. BDAG: pertaining to being without fault and therefore morally blameless. This is a judicial term meaning that no accusation can be brought against a person.




O’Brien (1982, p69): “The prospect of the Colossians’ standing irreproachable before him at the Great Assize is conditional upon their remaining firmly founded and established in the faith. The Greek construction εἴ γε, translated ‘provided that’ does not express doubt. Although the same expression in Gal 3:4 may leave ‘a loophole for doubt,’ the other Pauline references (2 Cor 5:3; Eph 3:2; 4:21 and Rom 5:6, if the text of B is followed) according to Lightfoot, Thrall, and Martin, would appear from their contexts to denote confidence.”

Is this the gospel message or Christ’s sacrifice? Ultimately there is not much of a difference them other than semantics. Given the later mention of the gospel in just a few short words that is probably what is in mind.

BDAG: to remain at or in the same place for a period of time. Rom 1:20


Colossians Translation & Notes


Paul’s Mission and Pastoral Concern (1:24-2:5)
24 Now I rejoice in sufferings59 for the sake of you and filling up that which is lacking60 in Christ’s tribulation61 in my flesh, for the sake62 of his body63 which is the church 25 of which I became a servant according to the management64 of God who gave65 me to you to complete66 the word of God


With the “now” it refers to Paul’s current state of suffering.


1)Windisch, H. (1934) suggested that there was actually something lacking in the vicarious sufferings of Christ which must be supplied by the apostle. 2) A popular view in seventeenth and eighteenth century Protestant interpretation was to understand the genitive as objective so that the phrase meant suffering “for the sake of Christ” 3) Another line of approach that was popular among some early interpreters was to understand “of Christ” as a genitive of quality referring to the sufferings of Paul “which resemble those of Christ.” 4) A fourth approach which has been very influential in times past is the Christ-mysticism view. All that Paul does and suffers happens in mystical union with Christ. We can clearly dismiss the first option as we are taught elsewhere that Christ’s work on the cross was sufficient for all of our sins. O’Brien suggests that behind the idea of tribulation is the Jewish concept of the “age to come.” Thus tribulation can be understood in the eschatological sense; Christ’s sufferings, while completed upon the cross, have the lingering effect that we too will suffer (which is a fulfillment of what he himself proclaimed in Matt 16:24, Mark 8:34, and Luke 9:23).

Can also be translated as: affliction or oppression Paul’s suffering was not without purpose, but was done for the body of Christ.



Throughout Paul’s writing he makes reference to the church as “the body of Christ,” and also as Christ as the head of the church. These bodily metaphors help us to understand the community aspect of the church and also inform us of our connection with Christ.

“The word indicated the responsibility, authority, and obligation given to a household slave.” (Rogers, 1998 p462)

Divine passive indicating God as the giver. A form of this same verb has just been used of filling up the sufferings of Christ.


Colossians Translation & Notes 26 the mystery67 concealed68 from the age and from the generations69 – but now made visible70 to his holy ones 27 that God willed71 to make known what is the wealth72 of the glory of the mystery this is to the Gentiles, that is Christ in you, the hope of glory73 28 That we proclaim74 exhortations75 to every man76 and teach every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man77 perfect78 in Christ 29 For this reason I grow weary79, contending80 for a prize according to the power that enables him , working81 in me in power



The mystery is that the Gentiles are now accepted into the covenant that was previously reserved for Israel.

The perfect passive here emphasizes the state or condition. BDAG suggests: to keep from being known. Thus without the supernatural revelation of God this would have remained hidden from our understanding.

Referring to previous generations in which the mystery was not understood. In contrast with being concealed.



O’Brien (1982, p85): “Bowers, however, has put forward an interesting alternative. He suggests that the relative “to whom” should be regarded as an accusative (having been attracted to the dative case of its antecedent τοῖς ἁγίοις, a common enough phenomenon in the NT), and this functions as the subject of the infinitive “make known”). The resultant translation would be “…to his saints, who God willed should make known how rich is the splendor of this mystery among the Gentiles.””

Literally a plentiful supply of something. A nice succinct statement of the what the mystery truly is.



Rogers (1998, p 463): “The word indicates an official proclamation. The present emphasizes the continual and habitual action.”

BDAG: to counsel about avoidance or cessation of an improper course of conduct. The gospel should be proclaimed to all people; no one is excluded from the message. The repetition here is for emphasis. Can also be translated ‘mature’





BDAG: to exert oneself physically, mentally, or spiritually. Clearly the work Paul did for the sake of the gospel was tiresome, but it was done with all gladness and joy.

Used of athletic contests, and used figuratively through the New Testament for any struggle.

This is an effectual working

Colossians Translation & Notes 2:1 For I wish82 you to know how great a contest I have for your sake and those in Laodicea83 and how many have not seen my face in the flesh 2 that their hearts may be strengthened84 having been joined together in love and into all the wealth of full assurance85 of understanding86, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ87 3 in whom88 are all the hidden treasures89 of wisdom and knowledge 4 ThisI say, that90 no one of you reasoned falsely91 with persuasive speech



Or “will.” Paul’s desire is that the readers would understand the struggles that he is undergoing, not only for those church’s that he personally founded, but also for those whom he had never seen “face to face.”

A neighbor of Colossae.


“In Colossians there is no mention of, or allusion to, distresses or persecutions that would have elicited consolation or comfort as the object of the apostle’s energetic activities. What made Paul concerned was the reader’s danger of being carried away by the heretical teaching.” (O’Brien 1982, p93)

BDAG: state of complete certainty BDAG: the faculty of comprehension, intelligence, acuteness, and shrewdness.



Both God and Christ are in the genitive case here, thus the mystery of God is Christ. Given the uniqueness of Jesus and his relationship with us it is not surprising that he is indeed a mystery.

Being Christ


The imagery may be from Jewish apocalyptic ideas of heavenly treasures, hidden from the human eye (Rogers 1998, p463).

It is possible to take this in an imperative sense giving the force of “don’t let anyone.” Our understanding though is that it refers to the previous verses. The reason for this is that within the New Testament ἵνα is never used as an imperative following a Τοῦτο λέγω.

Rogers (1998, p463): “The word was used in the papyri of a keeper of a state library who had shown a willingness to make a wrong use of certain documents. Paul uses the word ere to point to drawing an erroneous conclusion from the reasoning submitted.”

Colossians Translation & Notes


5 on the on hand the flesh is absent92, but on the other I am with your spirit93, rejoicing and seeing you the order94, and the support of [your] faith in Christ

The Antidote to Error: Christ in All His Fullness (2:6-15)
6 Therefore even as you received95 Christ Jesus the lord, walk96 in him 7 taking root97 and being build in him and being confirmed98 and having been secured in the faith just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving99


Paul is referring to the fact that he is not bodily there with the Colossians. If Paul was physically present this letter would not be necessary and he would deal with the heresy personally.

There is some debate as to the nature of how Paul can be with the Colossians “in spirit.” He also makes the same claim to the Corinthians in 1 Cor 5:3-5, but the context there is in regards to discipline, while here it is a much happier occasion. Given the communal nature of the body of Christ and the fact that we are all joined together as a body, one can see that even though physically not there, he can be present with them in spirit because of the unique bond that all Christians share.

Rogers (1998, p463): “used in the military sense of a rank or orderly array.”


While this word includes the personal commitment that the Colossians had made to Christ, it is more in line with a technical term referring to the receiving a tradition.

This is Paul’s second exhortation regarding “walk.” While the first was in reference to walking worthily, here we find that the readers are to walk “in Christ.” “Walk” in the New Testament refers to the daily conduct of life, thus Paul is most likely encouraging them the walk in Christ as opposed to the heresy of the false teachers.

Rogers (1998, p464): “The word was also used in the metaphor of the building and pictured the firm and solid foundation. The Perfect points to the past completed action with continuing results or condition an pictures the settled state brought about by conversion.”

BDAG: to put something beyond doubt, confirm, establish.


Just like the previous reference to “walk” in 1:10 was followed by four participles giving added definition to the term, here we also find four participles giving further clarity. “Rooted,” “build,” “secured,” and “abounding”

Colossians Translation & Notes


8 See that you are not carried off100 through the love of wisdom101 and empty deceit according to the tradition102 of men, according to the elements103 of the world which are not according to Christ 9 That in him104 inhabits all the fullness of deity bodily105


BDAG: to gain control of by carrying off as booty. One cannot help but picture a person being carried away as a slave. In this case a person is carried away from the truth and carried into error.

While we are to seek wisdom and conduct our lives in a wise manner, the love of wisdom over that of Christ only leads one astray.

This stands in contrast with the divine tradition just mentioned. This could also refer to elemental teachings.



This brings to mind the previous mention of the deity of Christ in 1:19. Throughout this section Paul continually makes mention of “in him.” Here though the readers are brought back to the centrality of Christ and should always keep him in focus.

This is not saying that for a time Christ became God, but rather that he is God.

Colossians Translation & Notes


10 and you are in him fully106, who is the head107 of all rulers and authorities 11 In him also you were circumcised108 with a circumcision not made by hands, by the stripping off of the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ 12 having been buried with him in baptism109 that also with him raised110 through the faithful working111 of God who raised him out of the dead112 13 and we were dead [in, by]113 trespasses and the uncircumcision of our flesh, having made you alive together with him, forgiving all your trespasses, 14 obliterating114 your certificate115 of indebtedness, the decree116 which was hostile to us, and this he took off out of the midst117 having nailed it to the cross

Throughout Paul’s theology we find a tension between the “already” and the “not yet.” We get another mention of the tension here; how can a believer be fully in Christ but still be alive on this earth? This is possible because of the eternality of Christ being that he exists outside of space and time, and thus while we continue to experience life here on earth, there is also a sense in which we are already with Christ.

Here Christ is not simply the head of the body, but he is also the head over all rulers and authorities (be they earthly governments or demonic [and both may not acknowledge his authority])

This is not like the outward sign of the covenant, but rather a circumcision of the heart (Rom 2:29)

Clearly we have not physically been buried with Christ, but rather our baptism is a symbol of our placing our trust in Christ. Thus we are said to have been buried with him.

BDAG: to raise up with from death, physical or spiritual. Note that it was God here who raised Christ, not Christ raising himself. Seems to be a collective meaning “all the dead ones.”




Depending on how one takes the ἐν determines the nature of the trespasses that follows. If we take it as a locative (in) then we are in a state of being dead, however if we take the causal reading (by) then it is as a result of our trespasses that we are dead. Both may be in mind, or neither depending on whether the word is actually there to begin with.

Rogers (1998, p464): “The word was used for wiping out the memory of an experience, or for canceling a vote, annulling a law, or canceling a charge or debt. It was also used for washing out the writing on a papyrus.”

BDAG: a hand-written document, specifically a certificate of indebtedness, account, record of debts.

BDAG: a formal statement concerning rules or regulations that are to be observed. In Gen 2 God decreed that should Adam eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that he would surely die.

Rogers (1998, p465): “a strong expression meaning ‘and put out of sight.’”

Colossians Translation & Notes


15 Disarming118 the rulers and the authorities, exposing them with frankness, having triumphed119 over them in him


This brings to mind an enemy have been disarmed of his weapon and is no longer a threat.

The image is of a general leading his captives as a trophy.

Colossians Translation & Notes


Freedom from Legalism (2:16-23)
16 Therefore120 do not let anyone judge you in eating and in drinking121, or with a portion of the new moon feast122 or Sabbath123 17 These are a shadow of the things to come124, and of the body of Christ 18 Let no one condemn you, desiring by humility125 and worship of angles126, entering at length upon the tale of what one has seen127, to no purpose puffing up128 himself with reason of his flesh129 19 and do not rule the head130, out of which every part of the body through the joints are bonded together131 to supply and join together causing growth132 from God 20 If133 you have died with Christ from the elements of the world134, why do you live in the decrees of the world?


Since Christ has disarmed, exposed, and triumphed over the enemy. s


While Christians are to conduct themselves in a manner that is worthy of God, we should also realize that we are free from the restrictions of old covenant.

A monthly festival celebration. The weekly celebration.



Do we have Platonic thought here? There are other places throughout the New Testament in which it is hinted at that the things on earth are mere shadows of the things in heaven. While Plato may have identified this concept that does not make it only a pagan thought, because unlike the forms that Plato theorizes about and are ultimately unknowable, we will one day fully know the things in heaven.

Even Paul used sarcasm.


Only Christ alone is to be worshipped. Every occurrence within the canon in which an angel is worshipped they rightly tell the individual not to do so, but rather to worship God.

BDAG suggested translation Paul finally speaks plainly about what his thoughts in regards to these false teachers. This is one’s own earthy reasoning, as contrasted with Christ’s reasoning. Clearly this is referring to Christ.





O’Brien (1982, p147): “With this illustration about the ligaments, nerves or muscles as we would call tem, Paul indicates that the body is constantly supplied with energy and nourishment by the head, and is held together as a unity by that head alone.”

Growth does not come from a denial of certain foods, but rather from God. This is not in a doubtful since, but rather “since this is the case.”


Colossians Translation & Notes 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch135” 22 all of which are meant for destruction136 by being consumed137, according to religious precepts and instructions of men138


23 anyone139 who by a word shows affirmation holding to wisdom in self-willed piety and humility [and] severe treatment of the body140, they are of no value in checking self-indulgence

Seek the Things Above
3:1 Therefore if141 you were raised with Christ, seek142 the things above, where Christ is seated at the right143 [hand] of God 2 Think on things above144, not things on the earth145 3 For you died146 and your life is hidden147 in Christ with God


Since we have died with Christ we have been severed from the elemental things of the world. The problem in the Colossian church, though, was that they were trying to once again live by the things that they had been set free from.

These are the teachings that the false teachers were promoting.


Paul may have in mind food, but the other thing listed in the previous verse would also be in mind.

BDAG: consuming or using up. Their suggested translation for this passage is: “…are meant for destruction by being consumed.”

These traditions are only the invention of humans.


There is some debate as to the meaning of this verse because it is unclear as to whether Paul is chiding the false teacher’s doctrine, or making his own comments.

Asceticism was a common practice during the first century and was used as a means of communing with the gods.

Just like the previous usages there is no doubt about the salvation of the Colossians. Even within this verse he mentions the fact that they have been raised with Christ.

Unlike the false teachers who were using their own reasoning to find wisdom, Paul instructs the readers to look up to Christ for instructions in wisdom and conduct.

The right hand position was one of prestige and honor. Here Christ is depicted as having been seated at the right hand in heaven. Thus believers are to seek the things above, where Christ is.

Paul again instructs the readers to look above, placing the mind upon the things of Christ. This is a sharp contrast with thinking upon the thinks of heaven.



Further evidence for the salvation of the Colossians; here the term is aorist meaning that at some point in the past they experienced this death.

Colossians Translation & Notes


4 Whenever148 Christ appears, your life149, then you yourselves will appear with him in glory

Put Away the Sins of the Past (3:5-11)
5 Therefore150 put to death the members of your body on the earth: fornication151, uncleanness, passion152, lust, evil and covetousness, whoever is an image worshiper 6 Because of this the wrath of God is coming153 [upon the sons of disobedience] 7 In these154 also you once walked155, when you lived in these 8 But now156 you must lay aside all these, wrath157, passion, wickedness158, blaspheme159, obscene160 speech out of your mouth 9 do not161 lie to one another, having stripped off162 your old man163 with his way of acting

As a result of their death they have been hidden Christ, and since Paul has just finished commenting that Christ is seated at the right hand of God, we also are with him there.

The exact time of Christ’s appearance is uncertain, but we can be sure that he will come back.

Our lives are linked with that of Christ and thus when he appears we shall also appear with him. Since he has already received his glorified body it is logical that when he appears we will also “appear with him in glory.”

As a result of our lives being hidden with Christ, and the fact that we will appear in glory with him, we are to conduct ourselves in a right manner here on earth.

Sexual activity apart from the union of marriage. A strong desire that will not rest until it is satisfied.



Sin will be judged by God and while we may not see the judgment here on earth we can trust in the fact that the wrath of God will one day be poured out upon those who are disobedient.

In reference to the previous list of vices.


Paul is reminding the readers of their former condition and way of life. The inclusion of the particle here modifies the state of their former walking (meaning that at one time they walked in these things).

In contrast with the former manner of life.


Rogers (1998, p467): “It refers to a burning anger which flares up and burns with the intensity of a fire.

Ibid: Refers to the vicious nature which is bent on doing harm to others.


Ibid: The attempt to belittle and cause someone to fall into disrepute or to receive a bad reputation.

Ibid: filthy talk, dirty speech, abusive language

Colossians Translation & Notes


10 and be clothed with the new164 self into knowledge according to the image165 of its builder 11where there is not Gentle and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarians166, Scythian, slave free, but Christ is all in all167.

Put on the Graces of Christ (3:12-17)
12 Therefore168 cloth yourselves, as elect of God, holy ones and beloved, heartfelt169 and merciful170, goodness, humility171, gentleness172, long-suffering173


An imperative forbidding this type of conduct. Like one would clothing. Rom 6:6; Eph 4:22 Present passive participle indicating that the action is being performed by another.





We are a self portrait of Christ and as such as we grow and mature we should more and more reflect the “artist” behind the brush.

Rogers (1998, p467): “The word properly denoted one who spoke an inarticulate stammering, unintelligible language and was adopted by Greek exclusiveness and pride to stigmatize the rest of mankind, denoting on e who was not a Greek.

Paul’s point is that in Christ all the boundaries of separation have been removed and ultimately Christ is everything.

Because we are all one in Christ.


BDAG: as often in the ancient world, inner body parts served as referents for physiological aspects: of the seat of emotions, in our usage a transference is made to the rendering “heart”

Rogers (1998, p467): “It is mercy expressed in attitude and deed, the friendly and helpful spirit which seeks to meet the needs of others through kind deeds.”

Ibid: “Lowliness in thinking…It is the recognizing of one’s own weakness, but also the recognition of the power of God.”

Ibid: “The word indicates an obedient submissiveness to God and his will, with unwavering faith and enduring patience displaying itself in a gentle attitude and kind acts toward others, and this often in the face of opposition. It is the restrained and obedient powers of the personality brought into subjection and submission to God’s will by the Holy Spirit.”

Ibid: “It is a long holding out of the mind before it gives room to action or passion. It indicates the patient longsuffering in bearing injustices or unpleasant circumstances without revenge or retaliation but with a view or hope to a final goal or betterment.”

Colossians Translation & Notes


13 enduring174 one another and forgiving of yourself, if anyone has a complaint against anyone, just as also the lord forgave175 you, so you also. 14 But above all – love176, which bonds in perfect harmony 15 and the peace of Christ177 rule in your hearts, and to this you were called in one body178, and be thankful179 16 The word of Christ180 must richly dwell in you, teaching and admonishing one another with all wisdom, with a psalm, a hymn, a spiritual song181 in [the] grace singing in your heart to God 17 and everything you do in word182 or in work183, do everything184 in the name of the lord Jesus, thanking God the father through him


BDAG says “to regard with tolerance.” There are of course going to be those members of the body of Christ that, because of our sinful nature, we have trouble even being around. Paul tells us though that we should tolerate such people.

Just as God forgave the enormous amount of sin (debt) in our lives we also should be characterized as forgiving.

In 1 Cor 13 Paul expounds upon this greatest of virtues in a much fuller sense. Here though we are told that it is love which bonds together the body and that it does so “in perfect harmony.”

John 14:27 Even though we are individuals we are joined together in one body, which is Christ’s.



Rogers (1998, p468): “The word indicates the obligation of being thankful to someone for a favor done. The thankfulness arises out of the grace of God and that which he has done.”

Just as the readers is to let the peace of Christ rule in their hearts, so also must they let the word of Christ dwell in them. This usage is somewhat odd since throughout the New Testament it is referred to as “the Word,” “the Word of God,” or “the Word of the Lord.” It may have been in keeping with the christocentric theme of the letter that Paul wanted to continue to emphasis that this are Christ’s word.

It is difficult to distinguish the differences between these three, but we do know that we are to sing, and to do so with (or in) grace.

The things that one says. The things that one does.



This is all encompassing of life. Paul’s view is that when you chose to follow Christ that all areas of one’s life should be done with the Lord in mind. So when one sits down to eat they should be mindful of Christ and his work in the world that allows the food to be grown. Or when making love to one’s spouse thanking God for the gift of sexual union.

Colossians Translation & Notes


Behavior in the Christian Household (3:18:-4:1)
18 Wives185 be subject186 to your187 husband’s as is fitting188 in the lord 19 Husbands must love189 their wives and do not make them bitter190 towards you 20 Children191 must listen to parents according to everything192, for this is pleasing in the lord 21 Fathers do not stir193 up your children, so that [they] are not discouraged194 22 Slaves must be subject195 to everything according to fleshly lords, not in eye service196 as man-pleasing, but in simplicity of heart in the fear197 of the lord


This topic is also discussed in Eph 5:22-33


Rogers (1998, p468): “submission for Paul is a voluntary submission based on one’s own recognition of God’s order.”

A wife only should be submissive to her own husband. While it is possible to read women/men into these verses (the language allows for that) the context more aptly applies to translation here given.

BDAG: to reach a point of connection with focus on what is appropriate.


In the Eph passage Paul goes on to describe this love as the type which Christ has for the church. It is interesting to note that in regards to relationships these two items (love and respect) are the most necessary for a healthy relationship.

Rogers (1998, p468): “The verb has the idea of being sharp, harsh, and bitter. It speaks of friction caused by impatience and thoughtless nagging. If love is absent, such obedience will not be secured by perpetual irritation and faultfinding.”

A child was not simply a toddler or someone under school age, rather if you have parents alive, you are still considered a part of this category.

This of course does include sin. If a parent is trying to lead a child into sin then one should “rebel” against the parent. Yet following the instructions of a parent is what is right in the sight of the Lord. In Eph 6:1-3 Paul also points out that this command is the first with a promise.

BDAG: to cause someone to react in a way that suggests acceptance of a challenge. Just as children need to obey their parents, Father’s should conduct themselves in such a way that it does not cause the child to seek rebellious behavior.

Rogers (1998, p468): “to be without courage or spirit, to lose heart, to become spiritless; to go about their task in a listless, moody, sullen frame of mind. A child frequently irritated by over-severity or injustice to which, nevertheless, it must submit, acquires a spirit of sullen resignation leading to despair.”

Just as children must also submit to their fathers, so slaves must submit to their earthy masters in everything.

Colossians Translation & Notes 23 If you do anything, work out of your soul198 as to the lord and not man



The idea is a slave who is diligent while the master is watching but as soon as he is gone begins to slack in his (or her) duties.

A slave should work not out of a fear of the earthly master, but rather out of a fear (or healthy respect) for the Lord.

While this phase sounds strange to our ears it is understandable. In the works that we do we should they are to be out of our new life, not the old. Thus our works should be directed towards God and not men.

Colossians Translation & Notes


24 having seen199 that from the lord200 you will receive the repayment as an inheritance201. You are serving the lord Christ 25 For acting wickedly will receive wickedness202, and he is not partial203. 4:1 Lords204, do what is just and fair to slaves, knowing that also you have a master205 in heaven

Final Admonitions: Persistence in Prayer and Right Behavior toward Outsiders (4:2-6)
2 Pray constantly206, watching207 in it with thanksgiving 3 Pray at once208 also about me, that God would open a door for me to speak the word of the mystery of Christ, because209 of this [I am] also bound


Perfect participle meaning that the action happened in the past, but has continuing results.

As opposed to from receiving from men.


Paul may be speaking in regards to our heavenly rewards for the service we render. However, he may be revering simply to salvation as well. Rogers (1998, p469) notes about this word, “Here a genitive of apposition, the reward which consists in the inheritance. There is a special point in the word, inasmuch as slaves could not be inheritors of an earthly possession.

Paul may have in mind something akin to Jesus’ teaching in Matt 12:34 in which out of the heart of a person comes either good or evil. Thus if one sows a life of wickedness he will in turn reap wickedness.

James 2:1-9


This is the same term used in reference to Christ, yet clearly here he is referring to earthly lords (masters).

Even though they may be the owner of a slave, masters are to treat their slaves in a way which is pleasing to God since they have a master in heaven who will judge them.

As was mentioned t the beginning of the letter Paul prayed continually for the Colossians, and he wants them to imitate him in that regards. While the Jewish custom was to pray specifically twice a day Paul has in mind an attitude of continual prayer that encompasses all aspects of our life.

Perhaps Paul is reminding the readers that when they pray they need to be mindful to give thanks as well. It is easy to get into a habit of continually asking God for him to work or do something, but we should always balance out our prayers with thanksgiving to him.

While he wants the readers to pray continually he also wants them to pray immediately for him; and not only for his circumstances, but that he will continue to “speak the word of the mystery of Christ”

Colossians Translation & Notes 4 that I make it clear210 even as it is necessary211 for me to speak 5 Walk in wisdom212 towards those outside, ransoming213 the season 6 Your speech at all times [should be] with grace, seasoned214 with salt, having known in some way it is necessary for you to answer one another


Personal Greetings and Instructions (4:7-18)
7 Tychicus215, the beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow servant in the lord, will tell you all about me 8 I sent him to you for this, that you might know about us and may encourage your hearts 9 with Onesimus216 the faithful and beloved brother, who is from you – so you will know everything. 10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you received commands, if he may come to you, receive him) 11and Jesus who is called Justus, these are from the circumcision, these alone are fellow workers to the kingdom of God, these have comforted me


It is because of the gospel that Paul has been imprisoned, but rather than treat this as an unfortunate occurrence, he views his imprisonment as being for Christ.

This is the same term that was used back in 3:4b in reference to the appearing of Christ. In this context however it seems better to translate the word as we have. Paul may want additional prayer to be “clear” because of the plethora of false teachings that are in the world.

BDAG: to be under necessity of happening; denoting compulsion of any kind. Paul is saying that he is compelled to speak, either in his defense, or because of the great impulse drawing him to share Christ with those around him.

This is now the third time that Paul encourages the readers to walk in specific behaviors. Here Paul’s desire is that they walk in wisdom.

In Eph 5:26 Paul tells us that the “days are evil” and thus we should do what we can to redeem them. The same idea is in mind here; the days are currently held in captivity and we are to do what we can to “ransom” them.

Rogers (1998, p469): The figure of speech as salt was used in the ancient world of sparkling conversation, speech dotted with witty or clever remarks. Here it indicates speech which gives a flavor to the discourse and recommends it to the pallet as well as speech which preserves from corruption and renders wholesome.”

Mentioned in Eph 6:21, 2 Tim 4:12 and Titus 3:12


A slave that ran away and joined Paul in his missionary journey, but was sent back to his master Philemon along with the letter that bears that name.

Colossians Translation & Notes 12Greet also Epaphras who is from you, a slave of Christ [Jesus], at all times struggling over you with prayer, that you may stand perfect and fulfilled in all the will of God 13for I testify about him that he has much labor over you and in Laodicea and in Hierapolis 14Luke greets you, the beloved physician, and Demas 15 Greet also the Laodicea brothers and Nympha and the church in her house 16 and whenever you have read this letter, have it also read in the church of Laodicea, and from Laodicea so that you also read


17And say to Archippus “Look the service you received217 from the Lord,” so that he completes it. 18 This greeting is my own hand, Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you


Rogers (1998, 470): “The word suggests a mediate rather than a direct reception. Archippus received the charge immediately from Paul, though ultimately from Christ.”

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