The Epistle to the Colossians

Paul wrote the epistle to the Colossians between 61-63 AD, during his first imprisonment in Rome. Colossae was a city near Laodicea inside of what is today Turkey, and the leader of the church there seems to have been Epaphras, who may have visited Paul in Rome to seek counsel on the schisms and Gnostic-like heresies within the church back home. Some of these heresies traced themselves to an occult movement inside the church that believed angels and other spiritual forces were exerting an influence over world events. To placate these forces and avert persecution, some in the church were ‘worshipping’ angels, and Paul brings out the fact that all spiritual forces were created by and are subservient to Christ.

 

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 1

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,

2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,

5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:

7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;

8 Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge1 of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn2 of every creature:

16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:3

17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:4

25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

2 To the righteous and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace and peace be to you from God our Father (and the Lord Jesus Christ).

3-5 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, always keeping you in our prayers since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and the love you have for all the righteous, a love born of your confidence in what is laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard before in the Message of the Gospel truth.

6-7 This Message has come to you, just as it has the rest of the world; and as it has born fruit elsewhere, it has likewise been bearing fruit in you from the day you heard it and came to know grace of God in all truth, as told you by Epaphras, our dear fellow laborer, who is a faithful minister of Christ to you.

8 He is the one who informed us of your love in the Spirit.

9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard of it, have desired and unceasingly prayed that you would be filled with perfect knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,

10 So that you can walk worthy of the Lord and be pleasing to him, being fruitful in every good work, and growing in the knowledge of God,

11-12 Receiving the power to be strengthened in patience and long-suffering through His might and glorious power, joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has made you worthy to inherit the Light with the righteous ones.

13 The same Father has delivered us from the Power who rules over darkness, and integrated us into the kingdom of His dear Son,

14 Through whose blood we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins.

15 He is the visible reflection of the invisible God, and is pre-eminent over all Creation.

16 For by the Son, all things in heaven and earth--visible and invisible--were created, whether they are earthly thrones or rulers, spirits in charge of whole nations, or spirit beings in the heavens above--all things were created by him for his own pleasure.

17 And the Son existed before all things; and through the Son, all things (continue their existence).

18 And he is the head of the body--the church--and is the genesis and firstborn from the dead so that he may have pre-eminence (over everything in the universe).

19 For it pleased the Father that every possible fullness should dwell in him;

20 And, having made peace [between God and man] through the blood of his cross, the Father ordained that all things, whether on earth or in the cosmos, should be reconciled through and to him.

21-23 And you (Gentiles) also, who were once alienated from God because of your wicked minds and deeds, He has reconciled in the body of Christ through his death, to present you holy, guiltless, and beyond reproach in His sight--provided you continue in the faith and remain unmoved from the hope of the Gospel you’ve heard that was also preached to every creature under heaven; the same Gospel that I, Paul, have been made a minister of.

24 It is because of you that I can rejoice in my sufferings as I employ my own body to inherit the work and afflictions Christ began on the cross for the sake of his body, the church,

25 To which I have been made a minister, according to the assignment that has been given me for you, to fulfill the decree of God,

26 Which was a mystery that was hidden for ages, through many generations, but now is being manifested to his righteous ones,

27 To whom God would reveal what is the riches and glory of this mystery among the Gentiles--which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,

28 Whom we preach about, warning and teaching every man with all the wisdom we have so that we may present every man mature in Christ Jesus.

29 So I also labor, working diligently in His power that flows mightily through me.

1. The word here translated “knowledge” is a very strong word suggesting the ultimate sort of truth that transcends normal human knowledge.

2. This verse is sometimes twisted by groups who claim Jesus was a created being. “Firstborn,” in this verse, actually means that Christ has pre-eminence over everything that exists.

3. Paul here has listed a number of temporal and angelic hierarchies, showing that Christ not only is in a position of authority over these supernatural and temporal powers; He actually created them! The reason for this point may be seen in the next chapter, where Paul reveals some false teachers had been trying to get the Colossians to worship angels. This heresy isn’t too far removed from the teachings of denominations claiming that Jesus is Himself the archangel Michael.

4. This is a rather enigmatic verse Catholicism views as suggesting that it is possible for humans to take the wrath of God upon themselves, lest He smite others for their sins. An apparition at Fatima said something like that to the three children it appeared to, calling on them to avert God's wrath by drinking from a chalice in order to make reparation for the crimes of humanity.

Evangelical Christianity would understand Paul to be saying that he was there to do his part to further the Gospel, enduring the persecution that Christ foretold the apostle he would face for the sake of the Gospel.

 

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 2

1 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;

2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.

5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.

6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.2

9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:3

17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,

21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;

22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.4

1-3 For I would have you be aware of the great conflict that I have undergone for you, and those in Laodicea, and for others as well who have not yet met me personally, so that everyone’s hearts may be comforted, being united in love to the point they are enriched with full assurance of understanding of this mystery of God the Father and Christ, in whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

4 And what I am about to say (in verse 6), I say so that no man tricks you through crafty arguments.

5 For though I am not present in body, I am with you in spirit, rejoicing over how well ordered you are, and how steadfast your faith in Christ is.

6 So I say that you should walk according to the knowledge you received about Christ Jesus the Lord,

7 Being rooted and built up in him, and grounded in the faith you were taught, abounding in it with gratitude.

8 But beware, lest any man rob you through philosophy and empty deceit, substituting human tradition born from the world’s demon-inspired principles, in favor of the truth of Christ.

9-12 For in Christ alone, all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in bodily form, and you are complete in Christ, the head of all rulers and powers, through whom you are circumcised not with the circumcision performed with human hands on a physical body, but by the (spiritual) circumcision of Christ, which cuts the sins of the flesh from the body through your being buried with him in baptism and your being raised with him through your faith in the power of God who raised him from the dead.

13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he has made alive with Christ, having forgiven all your trespasses,

14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances (in the Torah) that were against us, taking them away by nailing them to his cross (and assuming our debt).

15 Then, having looted demonic principalities and powers through the cross as well, he made them a public spectacle of defeat in a triumphal parade.

16 So don’t be moved by someone’s criticism over what you eat or drink, or whether you observe a (Jewish) Feast day (Sabbath), or a New Moon (Sabbath), or whether you keep the various other Jewish Sabbaths.

17 These are symbolic of things to come, but their personification is in Christ.

18-19 Nor should you let any man rob you of your reward by intimidating you into some obligation to placate angels, intruding into (metaphysical) things he knows nothing about, based on some esoteric revelation or vision he has received from his own intellectual pride and arrogance rather than from the Head--by which the rest of the body is given all it needs to grow, being joined together and growing in the increase of God.

20 So if you have died with Christ and become dead to demon-birthed philosophies and thinking of the world, why--as if you were still living in the ungodly world--are you obeying worldly religious regulations?

21-22 I mean regulations along the lines of, “Don’t touch; don’t taste; don’t handle” things that are gone as soon as they are (eaten). It’s carnal men who have invented such prohibitions.

23 They have a semblance of wisdom in the sense of conveying self-imposed religious acts, false humility, and self-denial--but they are of no use in bringing about true self-control.

1. This verse can be understood either as the paraphrase renders it, or like so: “And what I just said (in the last three verses), I said so that no man tricks you through crafty arguments.

2. After reminding them that they originally embraced the message of the Gospel of Faith, Paul now begins to address the heresies present in the church, warning that the Colossians could be ‘spoiled’--that is, robbed of their freedom and inheritance in Christ through the addition to faith of either philosophy, or else the keeping of extraneous religious laws. The heresies apparently traced themselves to a lack of understanding of the nature and Deity of Christ, with some teaching He was a created being. Next, came the typical attempts by the Judaisers to require the Gentiles to keep Sabbath and Feast days (verse 16), tying observance of the Torah to being accepted by God, either above or on par with faith.

3. Once again, clear indication that Paul is warning the Gentile converts not to be intimidated into embracing Judaism as the completion of their walk with Christ. Also, as he does in Galatians 4, he absolves the Gentiles from keeping the various forms of the Jewish Sabbath. (The Sabbath year is not mentioned because it was not really an issue as it was in Galatia when Galatians was written.)

4. How appropriate are the words from 2000 years ago to our own times, for the church to this day all too often creates its own extra-biblical laws about what God requires of Christians--such as not smoking, not dancing, not gambling, fasting during Lent, etc., which the Bible itself never mentions.

 

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 3

1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry1:

6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience2:

7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.

8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication3 out of your mouth.

9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge4 after the image of him that created him:

11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs5, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.6

19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

22 Servants7, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:

23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.8

1 So if you have arisen with Christ, seek for the things that are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God.

2 Set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth.

3 For you are dead (to this world), and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

4 And when Christ--who is our life--appears, you shall also appear with him in glory.

5 So put to death everything in your bodily members that is earthy: Fornication, impurity, wild passion, evil desires, and greed--which is a form of idolatry.

6 It’s these very things that causes the wrath of God to fall (upon those who refuse to believe the Gospel).

7 You once walked in some of these things when you were still alive to the world.

8 Now banish these things from your mouth as well: Anger, wrath, malice, irreverent speech, and profanity.

9-11 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off the old (earthy) man along with his deeds, and have put on the new man who thinks in an entirely new manner after the pattern of Christ who created him, where there is neither Gentile nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian nor Scythian, slave, nor free--but Christ is all, and in all!

12 Holy and beloved brethren: As the elect of God, don heartfelt attitudes of mercy, kindness, humility, meekness and patience,

13 Putting up with each other’s faults, and forgiving any that you have quarrels with even as Christ forgave you as an example of the way you should forgive others.

14 And atop all this, clothe yourself with (God’s sort of unselfish) love, which binds all these things together in perfection.

15 And let the peace of God rule your hearts, something that the body of Christ is called upon to do. Also, be thankful.

16 Let the Message of Christ live bountifully in you through all the wisdom God has granted. Teach and admonish one another in psalms, hymns, and singing in Tongues, singing in your hearts to the Lord with gratitude.

17 And whatever you do in speech or deed, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

18 Wives, give place to your husbands as is proper in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives, and don’t treat them harshly.

20 Teenagers, obey your parents in all things, for God is very pleased by this.

21 Fathers, don’t provoke your children to anger, lest you break their spirit.

22 Slaves, obey in every way your earthly masters. Don’t do so just when you’re being watched--in the way that men-pleasers do--but in heartfelt sincerity, honoring God.

23 And whatever you do, do it well, as if you are doing it for the Lord, rather than for men,

24 Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of inheritance, for you serve the Lord Christ.

25 But he who does wrong shall be punished for the wrong he has done, as there is no partiality with God.

1. It’s interesting to note that Paul redefines idolatry to mean something other than its classic sense. Here, for instance, he equates covetousness with it. Most theologians would go a step further and view idolatry ultimately as self-worship.

2. Although reasonably translated as “disobedience,” the word also refers to the most hardened form of unbelief, and is translated as “unbelief” in Hebrews 4:6. It could therefore be helpful to paraphrase the latter half of the verse as: “Children of those who refuse to believe (the Gospel).” That aside, it should be noted that the latter half of the verse is probably a later addition to the text.

3. “Filthy communication” should be translated as: “Cussing.”

4. “Renewed in knowledge” could be understood as “thinking in new ways,” or “embracing God’s attitudes.”

5. “Spiritual songs” is a reference to singing in Tongues. It is not a reference to singing hymns or religious songs since Paul in Eph. 5:19 makes a distinction between these.

6. Women don’t like this verse, but Paul’s command is that the wife acknowledges her husband is the head of the house. Peter (1 Peter 3:6) even goes a step further, showing how Sarah called Abraham her “lord” or “master.” To balance this out, however, Paul then goes on to clarify that everyone should submit to one another, and that the headship should be exercised for the unselfish good of the person or group beneath the leader, and never as a means of being catered to for one’s own convenience.

7. Where you see the word “servants” in this and the following chapter, the word should actually be translated: “Slaves.”

8. This verse has a lot of meat in it. In one sense, it is a warning to the lost that God will punish them for their sins. But it also warns the Christian that God will judge him for his sins as well. The difference is that one group receives the punishment as wrath, while the other receives it as correction.

 

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 4

1 Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.

2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:

4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.1

6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

7 All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:

8 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate2, and comfort your hearts;

9 With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.

10 Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus3, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)

11 And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.

12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

13 For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.

14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.

15 Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his4 house.

16 And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

17 And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.

18 The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.

1 Masters, give to your slaves that which is right and fair (--proper food, clothing, and treatment--) knowing that you too are a slave with a Master in heaven.

2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert and in an attitude of thanksgiving.

3-4 And pray that God would open a door of utterance for us to proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains even now.

5 Treat unbelievers wisely, and make the most of the time you have with them.

6 Let your speech always display grace, seasoned with the salt (of wisdom, tact, and edification), that you may know how to answer every man.

7 Tychicus will give you a report on how I am doing. He is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellow slave in the Lord.

8 I have sent him on to you for the same reason: To see how you are getting along, and to comfort your hearts.

9 I have also sent Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother who is one of your fellow Colossians. They will bring you up to date on all the news from this part of the world.

10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends greetings as does Mark--Barnabas’ sister’s son--about whom you were already given instructions about. Receive him if he comes to you.

11 And Jesus, who is called Justus, greets you as well. These men are the only Jews working with me to advance the Kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me.

12 Epaphras, another of your fellow Colossians and slave of Christ, sends greetings. He is ever praying intensely that you will stand mature and complete in God’s will.

13 I can attest to the fact that he has a great zeal for you, those in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis.

14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas send greetings.

15 Convey my best to the brethren in Laodicea including Nymphas and the church that meets in her house.

16 When this letter is read to you, make sure it is also read in the church at Laodicea; and likewise, you should read the letter I sent to them.

17 Say to Archippus: “Be sure that you heed the ministry to which God has called you, that you may fulfill it.”

18 THE SALUTATION BY MY OWN HAND, PAUL. REMEMBER MY CHAINS. GRACE BE WITH YOU. AMEN.

1. This is a rather flowery way of saying: “Treat unbelievers wisely, and make the most of the time you have with them.”

2. “Your estate” is better understood as: “How you’re doing.”

3. “Marcus” is Mark, the writer of the Gospel, a nephew of Barnabas.

4. Should be translated: “Her” house.

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