Colossians 3

The American Standard Version

3:1 If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God.

3:2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth.

3:3 For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

3:4 When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory.

3:5 Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry;

3:6 for which things’ sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience:

3:7 wherein ye also once walked, when ye lived in these things;

3:8 but now do ye also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out of your mouth:

3:9 lie not one to another; seeing that ye have put off the old man with his doings,

3:10 and have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him:

3:11 where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all.

3:12 Put on therefore, as God’s elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering;

3:13 forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye:

3:14 and above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness.

3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful.

3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God.

3:17 And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

3:18 Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.

3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children, that they be not discouraged.

3:22 Servants, obey in all things them that are your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord:

3:23 whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men;

3:24 knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance: ye serve the Lord Christ.

3:25 For he that doeth wrong shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

Pathways Notes

Colossians 3 is a powerful call to Christian maturity, focusing on the transformation believers should undergo in their journey with Christ. This chapter emphasizes putting to death the earthly nature and putting on the new self, which is being renewed in the image of its Creator. Paul lists specific virtues that should characterize this new life, including compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, topped with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. For those involved in self-help and self-control, Colossians 3 provides a clear blueprint for personal transformation by replacing old habits and behaviors with new, constructive ones. This chapter is also crucial for developing emotional resilience and fostering healthy relationships within the community, making it a foundational text for anyone seeking to live out their faith in practical and transformative ways.

Study Instructions for Each Echelon

  • Echelon 3: Expert - Putting on the New Self

    • Read: Focus on Colossians 3:1-17, with particular attention to the virtues listed in verses 12-14.

    • Concentrate: Analyze each virtue mentioned—compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience—and reflect on how these can reshape your emotional life and responses.

    • Reflect: Consider the instruction to "let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts" in verse 15. How can this be actualized in your daily emotional experiences? Develop practical strategies to incorporate this peace into how you handle conflicts and challenges.

  • Echelon 4: Emissary - Putting on the New Self

    • Read: Revisit the virtues and behavioral changes outlined in Colossians 3:12-17.

    • Think: Reflect on how you can mentor others in adopting these new behaviors and attitudes. What practical steps can you take to facilitate this transformation in others?

    • Engage: Organize group discussions or workshops that focus on each virtue. Share techniques and experiences that help cultivate these qualities. Provide support and encouragement as others work through the process of replacing old behaviors with new ones.

  • Echelon 5: Master - Putting on the New Self in Leadership

    • Read: Study Colossians 3 in depth, considering both the theological underpinnings and practical applications of putting on the new self.

    • Study: Focus on how these virtues apply to your role as a leader. How can you model these virtues to those you lead?

    • Lead: Design leadership training or development programs that incorporate these virtues. Encourage and coach others in your community to adopt and model these behaviors. Reflect on how fostering these virtues can affect the overall health and growth of your community.

By following these study instructions, participants at each echelon can deeply engage with the transformative message of Colossians 3. This chapter not only challenges individuals to grow in their personal virtues but also to become agents of change and models of Christian character in their broader communities.

Colossians 3 Notes:

Colossians 3 is a rich tapestry of apostolic guidance that Paul weaves for the church in Colossae, exhorting believers to seek the things above and to put to death their earthly natures. It is a profound call to spiritual reorientation and ethical transformation.

Paul begins by turning the believers' gaze upward, urging them to set their hearts on higher, divine realities where Christ is enthroned, affirming that life's true essence is hidden with Christ in God. He portrays the Christian life as a journey of becoming, one in which the old self with its practices is stripped away, and the new self is put on—a self that is renewed in the knowledge and image of its Creator. In this new life, social distinctions fade away, and Christ is all that matters and lives in all.

In vivid language, Paul instructs the Colossians to shed behaviors that belong to their former lives—immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. He warns of the wrath of God that comes on such practices and reminds them of their past, from which they have been delivered.

Transitioning from the individual to the communal, Paul calls for the cultivation of virtues that foster harmony and unity. Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience are to be the hallmarks of their interactions, with forgiveness binding them together in perfect unity. Above all, love is to be the overcoat that secures every other virtue in place, enabling peace to rule in their hearts.

The word of Christ is to dwell richly among them, with wisdom guiding their teachings and admonitions. The community is to express its devotion through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, with gratitude in their hearts to God. Whatever they do, whether in word or deed, is to be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Paul closes the chapter with direct appeals to various groups within the household—wives and husbands, children and fathers, slaves and masters—each exhorted to fulfill their roles with a sense of reverence for the Lord, knowing that they serve a higher Master in heaven.

Colossians 3 stands as an enduring testament to the power of the Christian faith to transcend the old and embrace a new way of being that reflects the image of God. It is a chapter that echoes through time, calling each generation of believers to a life of sanctity and love, grounded in the risen Christ.