1 If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, 7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him 11 -- a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

12 And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.

16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them. 20 Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.

21 Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart. 22 Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 25 For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality. [4:1 Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.]  Version: NAS



  • Having addressed the false teachings confronting the Colossians, in chapter 3 Paul gives them direction for practical Christian living.
  • In light of all Christians' death and resurrection in Christ (vv.1-4), we must live, and think, differently.
    • We are to consider ourselves as dead to sin, immune to its wiles and charms (v.5ff):
      • Sensual sins
      • Greed, idolatrously putting things before God
      • Anger and the words that flow from it (v.8).
      • Deception (v.9).
    • Because of such things God's wrath will come (v.6).
    • Christians used to live this way -- 
      • But they repented and began a new life (v.7).
      • They divested themselves of the old life and clothed themselves in the new (vv.9-10).
      • We all came from a sinful background, and we all are being transformed into the image of Christ (v.10). As someone put it, "The ground is level at the foot of the cross" (v.11).
      • Therefore we must intentionally strive to live differently (v.12ff).
        • We must treat one another with love and respect.
        • Forgiveness is paramount.
        • Peace must rule in the body of Christ.
        • Gratitude should also characterize true Christians (vv.15,17).
        • We are to instruct one another in the word of God (v.16).
          • This is not just a passage about gaining Bible knowledge, but about using it!
          • Even in our singing we instruct others. For this reason, the words of our songs ought to be meaningful -- content-laden, not shallow.
    • Household relationships are also affected (v.18ff).
      • Marriages. The standard of the Bible is far, far above the expectations of the pagan world.
        • Wives are not to dominate their husbands, but follow their lead.
        • Husbands are to genuinely love their wives.
      • Parenting. Children are to obey, and yet they are not "property." Under early Roman law, a father had the power to put a child to death, if he deemed it necessary
        • Children are to obey their parents. Though an "antiquated" notion in liberal western society, this is vital for happy families and secure children.
        • Fathers (especially) are not to embitter their children by being too hard on them.
      • Domestic help. Remember that 33%-50% of the Roman Empire were slaves in the first century. 
        • Slaves (who would also have been members of the household) are to serve wholeheartedly.
        • Masters (the thought continues into the first verse of chapter 4) likewise are to be fair, because God is fair.
  • Thus we see that the lives of true Christians are touched by Christ in several realms. None of these is hands-off to God. All must be surrendered to him!
    • Morality (our personal holiness)
    • Ethics (how we treat others)
    • Our outlook on life (positive and grateful)
    • A heart of service to Christ.


  • For more on the Scythians (verse 11), click here.
  • Verse 15 is often wrested from its context and pressed to support an errant doctrine about how we know God's will. "Pray until you feel the peace of God -- then you know your decision is in accord with his will." But that is false on two counts. First. the heart and conscience can be deceived. More important, this is not what the passage says. It is clearly a scripture about life within the body of Christ, and the peaceful relationships that should exist there. It has nothing to do with discerning God's will!

Thought questions:

  • Is there anything Paul mentioned in the first 15 verses of this chapter that convicted me? Any area where I need significant improvement?
  • Does the word of Christ dwell in me richly? When I sing, do I concentrate on the words, building faith and sharing conviction with others in the body of Christ?
  • If you're a wife, do you cooperate with your husband? Does the word "obey" cause you to bristle, or does pride prevent you from having the heart of Christ?
  • If you're a husband, are you kind towards your wife? Is it possible you are harboring a negative attitude towards her?
  • If you're a child (still living at home), are you obedient to your parents "in all things"? Does the fact that your mother and father are sinners, make you feel there's no need to be respectful or obedient?
  • If you're a parent, are you too hard on your children? Is their spirit becoming embittered?
  • If you're an employer, are you fair in your dealings with your employees?
  • If you're an employee, do you serve your boss as you would serve Christ? If not, why not?