New English Translation
Exhortations to Seek the Things Above
3 Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth, 3 for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ (who is your[a] life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with him. 5 So put to death whatever in your nature belongs to the earth:[b] sexual immorality, impurity, shameful passion,[c] evil desire, and greed which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience.[d] 7 You also lived your lives[e] in this way at one time, when you used to live among them. 8 But now, put off all such things[f] as anger, rage, malice, slander, abusive language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with its practices 10 and have been clothed with the new man[g] that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it. 11 Here there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave[h] or free, but Christ is all and in all.
Exhortation to Unity and Love
12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy,[i] kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving[j] one another, if someone happens to have[k] a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others.[l] 14 And to all these[m] virtues[n] add[o] love, which is the perfect bond.[p] 15 Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body[q] to this peace), and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ[r] dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace[s] in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Exhortation to Households
18 Wives, submit to your[t] husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing in the Lord. 21 Fathers,[u] do not provoke[v] your children, so they will not become disheartened. 22 Slaves,[w] obey your earthly[x] masters in every respect, not only when they are watching—like those who are strictly people-pleasers—but with a sincere heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you are doing,[y] work at it with enthusiasm,[z] as to the Lord and not for people,[aa] 24 because you know that you will receive your[ab] inheritance[ac] from the Lord as the reward. Serve[ad] the Lord Christ. 25 For the one who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong,[ae] and there are no exceptions.[af]
- Colossians 3:4 tc Certain mss (B[*] D1 H 0278 1175 1505 1739 2464 M sy sa) read ἡμῶν (hēmōn, “our”), while others (P46 א C D* F G P Ψ 075 33 81 1881 al latt bo) read ὑμῶν (humōn, “your”). Internally, it is possible that the second person pronoun arose through scribal conformity to the second person pronoun used previously in v. 3 (ὑμῶν) and following in v. 4 (ὑμεῖς, humeis). But in terms of external criteria, the second person pronoun has superior ms support (though there is an Alexandrian split) and ἡμῶν may have arisen through accident (error of sight) or scribal attempt to universalize the statement since all Christians have Jesus as their life. See TCGNT 557.
- Colossians 3:5 tn Grk “the members which are on the earth.” See BDAG 628 s.v. μέλος 1, “put to death whatever in you is worldly.”
- Colossians 3:5 tn Or “lust.”
- Colossians 3:6 tc The words ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας (epi tous huious tēs apeitheias, “on the sons of disobedience”) are lacking in P46 B b sa Cl Ambst Hier, but are found in א A C D F G H I Ψ 075 0278 33 1175 1505 1739 1881 2464 M lat sy bo. The words are omitted by several English translations (NASB, NIV, ESV, TNIV). This textual problem is quite difficult to resolve. On the one hand, the parallel account in Eph 5:6 has these words, thus providing scribes a motive for adding them here. On the other hand, the reading without the words may be too hard: The ἐν οἷς (en |ois) of v. 7 seems to have no antecedent without υἱούς already in the text, although it could possibly be construed as neuter referring to the vice list in v. 5. Further, although the witness of B is especially significant, there are other places in which B and P46 share errant readings of omission. Nevertheless, the strength of the internal evidence against the longer reading is at least sufficient to cause doubt here. The decision to retain the words in the text is less than certain. sn The expression sons of disobedience is a Semitic idiom that means “people characterized by disobedience.” In this context it refers to “all those who are disobedient.” Cf. Eph 5:6.
- Colossians 3:7 tn Grk “you also walked.” The verb περιπατέω (peripateō) is commonly used in the NT to refer to behavior or conduct of one’s life (L&N 41.11).
- Colossians 3:8 tn The Greek article with τὰ πάντα (ta panta) is anaphoric, referring to the previous list of vices, and has been translated here as “all such things.”
- Colossians 3:10 sn Put off all such things. The commands in vv. 8-9 are based on two reasons given in vv. 9-10—reasons which are expressed in terms of a metaphor about clothing oneself. Paul says that they have put off the old man and have put on the new man. Two things need to be discussed in reference to Paul’s statement. (1) What is the meaning of the clothing imagery (i.e., the “have put off” and “have been clothed”)? (2) What is the meaning of the old man and the new man? Though some commentators understand the participles “have put off” (v. 9) and “have been clothed” (v. 10) as imperatives (i.e., “put off!” and “put on!”), this use of participles is extremely rare in the NT and thus unlikely here. It is better to take them as having the semantic force of indicatives, and thus they give an explanation of what had happened to the Colossians at the time of their conversion—they had taken off the old man and put on the new when they trusted in Christ (cf. 1:4). While it is difficult to say for certain what the background to Paul’s “clothing” metaphor might be (whether it is primarily Jewish and comes from the OT, or primarily Gentile and comes from some facet of the Greco-Roman religious milieu), it is nonetheless clear, on the basis of Paul’s usage of the expression, that the old man refers to man as he is in Adam and dominated by sin (cf. Rom 6:6; Eph 4:22), while the new man refers to the Christian whose new sphere of existence is in Christ. Though the metaphor of clothing oneself primarily reflects outward actions, there is a distinct inward aspect to it, as the rest of v. 10 indicates: being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it. Paul’s point, then, is that Christians should take off their dirty clothing (inappropriate behavior) and put on clean clothing (behavior consistent with knowing Christ) because this has already been accomplished in a positional sense at the time of their conversion (cf. Gal 3:27 with Rom 13:14).
- Colossians 3:11 tn See the note on “fellow slave” in 1:7.
- Colossians 3:12 tn If the genitive construct σπλάγχνα οἰκτιρμοῦ (splanchna oiktirmou) is a hendiadys then it would be “compassion” or “tenderheartedness.” See M. J. Harris, Colossians and Philemon (EGGNT), 161.
- Colossians 3:13 tn For the translation of χαριζόμενοι (charizomenoi) as “forgiving,” see BDAG 1078 s.v. χαρίζομαι 3. The two participles “bearing” (ἀνεχόμενοι, anechomenoi) and “forgiving” (χαριζόμενοι) express the means by which the action of the finite verb “clothe yourselves” is to be carried out.
- Colossians 3:13 tn Grk “if someone has”; the term “happens,” though not in the Greek text, is inserted to bring out the force of the third class condition.
- Colossians 3:13 tn The expression “forgive others” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. It is included in the translation to make the sentence complete and more comprehensible to the English reader.
- Colossians 3:14 tn BDAG 365 s.v. ἐπί 7 suggests “to all these” as a translation for ἐπὶ πᾶσιν δὲ τούτοις (epi pasin de toutois).
- Colossians 3:14 tn The term “virtues” is not in the Greek text, but is included in the translation to specify the antecedent and to make clear the sense of the pronoun “these.”
- Colossians 3:14 tn The verb “add,” though not in the Greek text, is implied, picking up the initial imperative “clothe yourselves.”
- Colossians 3:14 tn The genitive τῆς τελειότητος (tēs teleiotētos) has been translated as an attributive genitive, “the perfect bond.”
- Colossians 3:15 tn Grk “in one body.” This phrase emphasizes the manner in which the believers were called, not the goal of their calling, and focuses upon their unity.
- Colossians 3:16 tc Since “the word of Christ” occurs nowhere else in the NT, two predictable variants arose: “word of God” and “word of the Lord.” Even though some of the witnesses for these variants are impressive (κυρίου [kuriou, “of the Lord”] in א* I 1175 bo Cl; θεοῦ [theou, “of God”] in A C* 33 104 323 945 al), the reading Χριστοῦ (Christou, “of Christ”) is read by an excellent cross-section of witnesses (P46 א2 B C2 D F G Ψ 075 1505 1739 1881 2464 M lat sa). On both internal and external grounds, Χριστοῦ is strongly preferred.
- Colossians 3:16 tn Grk “with grace”; “all” is supplied as it is implicitly related to all the previous instructions in the verse.
- Colossians 3:18 tn The article τοῖς (tois) with ἀνδράσιν (andrasin, “husbands”) has been translated as a possessive pronoun (“your”); see ExSyn 215.
- Colossians 3:21 tn Or perhaps “Parents.” The plural οἱ πατέρες (hoi pateres, “fathers”) can be used to refer to both the male and female parent (BDAG 786 s.v. πατήρ 1.a).
- Colossians 3:21 tn Or “do not cause your children to become resentful” (L&N 88.168). BDAG 391 s.v. ἐρεθίζω states, “to cause someone to react in a way that suggests acceptance of a challenge, arouse, provoke mostly in bad sense irritate, embitter.”
- Colossians 3:22 tn On this word here and in 4:1, see the note on “fellow slave” in 1:7.
- Colossians 3:22 tn The prepositional phrase κατὰ σάρκα (kata sarka) does not necessarily qualify the masters as earthly or human (as opposed to the Master in heaven, the Lord), but could also refer to the sphere in which “the service-relation holds true.” See BDAG 577 s.v. κύριος 1.b.
- Colossians 3:23 tn The present progressive “are doing” was used in the translation of ποιῆτε (poiēte) to bring out the idea that Paul is probably referring to what they already do for work.
- Colossians 3:23 tn Grk “from the soul.”
- Colossians 3:23 tn Grk “men”; here ἀνθρώποις (anthrōpois) is used in a generic sense and refers to people in general.
- Colossians 3:24 tn The article τῆς (tēs) has been translated as a possessive pronoun, “your” (ExSyn 215). It may also be functioning to indicate a well-known concept (inheritance as eternal life). See BDAG 548 s.v. κληρονομία 3: “common in Christian usage (corresp. to the LXX) (the possession of) transcendent salvation (as the inheritance of God’s children).”
- Colossians 3:24 tn The genitive τῆς κληρονομίας (tēs klēronomias) is a genitive of apposition: The reward consists of the inheritance.
- Colossians 3:24 tn The form of the term δουλεύετε (douleuete) is ambiguous; it can be read as either indicative or imperative. In favor of the indicative: (1) it seems to explain better the first part of v. 24, esp. “from the Lord” which would then read as: “because you know that you will receive your inheritance from the Lord as a reward for it is the Lord you are serving.” The “for” is supplied to make the relation explicit (it is actually added in many mss—D1 Ψ 075 M—but the best ms evidence is against its inclusion). (2) With the imperative, one might expect ὡς τῷ κυρίῳ (hōs tō kuriō), as for example in Eph 6:7. In favor of the imperative: (1) an imperative resumes the ἐργάζεσθε (ergazesthe) in v. 23a and forms a chiasm with it; (2) an imperative makes more sense of the γάρ (gar) in v. 25a; (3) an imperative relates equally well to the preceding statement; (4) a parallel can be found in Rom 12:11 which uses an imperatival participle δουλεύοντες (douleuontes) with the dative τῷ κυρίῳ. For an elaboration of these points see M. J. Harris, Colossians and Philemon (EGGNT), 185-86.
- Colossians 3:25 tn Grk “that which he did wrong.”sn It is a common theme in biblical thought that punishment for sin involves being fully given over to its consequences (cf. Rom 1), and this is also true of believers. Here Paul’s implication is that believers who sin and disobey the Lord whom they serve will receive the consequences of their actions, which is a fitting discipline.
- Colossians 3:25 tn The Greek word used here is προσωπολημψία (prosōpolēmpsia) and is usually translated “partiality.” It is used to describe unjust or unrighteous favoritism (Rom 2:11, Eph 6:9, Jas 2:1). When it comes to disciplining his children for their sins, God will treat all equally with no partiality.