Colossians 3
Vincent's Word Studies
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Be risen (συνηγέρθητε)

Rev., correctly, were raised. See Colossians 2:12. In their baptism in which they died (Colossians 2:20). Compare Romans 6:2 sqq.

Sitteth (ἐστιν καθήμενος)

According to the A.V. the literal rendering would be is sitting. Is, however, must be taken separately; where Christ is, seated. Seated is a secondary predicate, as hidden in Colossians 2:3. Compare Ephesians 2:4-6; Revelation 3:21.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
Set your affection (φρονεῖτε)

Lit., be minded, think. As Rev., set your mind. Seek marks the practical striving; set your mind, the inward impulse and disposition. Both must be directed at things above. "You must not only seek heaven, you must think heaven" (Lightfoot). Compare Philippians 3:19, Philippians 3:20.

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
Ye are dead (ἀπεθάνετε)

Rev., correctly, ye died, as Colossians 2:20.

Is hid (κέκρυπται)

Your new spiritual life is no longer in the sphere of the earthly and sensual, but is with the life of the risen Christ, who is unseen with God. Compare Philippians 3:20.

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Who is our life (ζωὴ)

See on John 1:4. The life is not only with Christ, it is Christ. Compare John 14:6; 2 Corinthians 4:10, 2 Corinthians 4:11; 1 John 5:11, 1 John 5:12. For the change of person, our for your, see on Colossians 2:13.

Shall appear (φανερωθῇ)

Rev., correctly, shall be manifested. Compare 1 John 3:2, note. See on Romans 3:21.

In glory

Compare Romans 8:17.

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
Mortify (νεκρώσατε)

Only here, Romans 4:19; Hebrews 11:12. Mortify is used in its literal sense of put to death. So Erasmus: "Christ was mortified and killed." And Shakespeare:

" - his wildness mortified in him,

Seemed to die too."

"1 Henry V., 1, 26"

Members (μέλη)

See on Romans 6:13. The physical members, so far as they are employed in the service of sin. The word falls in with the allusions to bodily austerities in ch. 2.

Which are upon the earth

Compare Colossians 3:2. The organs of the earthly and sensuous life.

Fornication, etc.

In apposition with members, denoting the modes in which the members sinfully exert themselves.

Inordinate affection, evil concupiscence (πάθος, ἐπιθυμίαν κακήν).

See on Romans 1:26.

And covetousness (καὶ πλεονεξίαν)

And has a climactic force; and especially; see on Romans 1:29.

Which is (ἥτις ἐστιν)

The compound relative, explanatory and classifying. Seeing it stands in the category of. Compare Ephesians 5:5.


See on 1 Corinthians 5:10.

For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
Wrath - cometh

Compare Romans 1:18. The present tense denotes the certainty of the future event, as Matthew 17:11; John 4:21. The best texts omit upon the children of disobedience.

In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
In the which (ἐν οἷς)

The omission of upon the children, etc., necessitates the reference to which things (Colossians 3:6) Otherwise we might render among whom.

Walked - lived

Walked, referring to their practice, lived, to their condition. Their conduct and their condition agreed. Compare Galatians 5:25.

But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
Put off (ἀπόθεσθε)

Compare Romans 13:12; Ephesians 4:22, Ephesians 4:25; Hebrews 12:1; James 1:21; 1 Peter 2:1.

Anger, wrath (ὀργὴν, θυμὸν)

See on John 3:36.

Malice (κακίαν)

See on naughtiness, James 1:21.

Blasphemy (βλασφημίαν)

See on Mark 7:22. Compare Romans 3:8; Romans 14:16; 1 Corinthians 4:13; Ephesians 4:31. Rev. railing.

Filthy communication (αἰσχρολογίαν)

Only here in the New Testament. Not merely filthy talking, as A.V., but foul-mouthed abuse. Rev., shameful speaking.

Out of your mouth

Construe with the preceding word. As Colossians 2:20-22 suggests Christ's words in Matthew 15:1-20, this phrase suggests Matthew 15:11, Matthew 15:18.

Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
Seeing that ye have put off (ἀπεκδυσάμενοι)

See on Colossians 2:15.

The old man

See on Romans 6:6.

And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
New (νέον)

See on Matthew 26:29. Compare Ephesians 5:24.

Is renewed (ἀνακαινούμενον)

Rev., better, giving the force of the present participle, is being renewed: in process of continuous renewal. The word καινός new, which enters into the composition of the verb, gives the idea of quality. Compare 2 Corinthians 4:16, and the contrast in Ephesians 4:22.

In knowledge (εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν)

Rev., correctly, unto knowledge, the end to which the renewal tended. Compare Ephesians 4:13.

After the image

Construe with renewed. Compare Ephesians 4:24, and see Genesis 1:26, Genesis 1:27.

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

Where, in the renewed condition; there is, better, as Rev., can be: ἔνι strengthened from ἐν in signifies not merely the fact but the impossibility: there is no room for.

Greek, Jew, etc.

Compare Galatians 3:28. National, ritual, intellectual, and social diversities are specified. The reference is probably shaped by the conditions of the Colossian church, where the form of error was partly Judaistic and ceremonial, insisting on circumcision; where the pretense of superior knowledge affected contempt for the rude barbarian, and where the distinction of master and slave had place as elsewhere.


For the circumcised. So Romans 4:12; Ephesians 2:11; Philippians 3:3.

Barbarian, Scythian

See on 1 Corinthians 14:11. The distinction is from the Greek and Roman point of view, where the line is drawn by culture, as between the Jew and the Greek it was drawn by religious privilege. From the former stand-point the Jew ranked as a barbarian. Scythian. "More barbarous than the barbarians" (Bengel). Hippocrates describes them as widely different from the rest of mankind, and like to nothing but themselves, and gives an absurd description of their physical peculiarities. Herodotus describes them as living in wagons, offering human sacrifices, scalping and sometimes flaying slain enemies, drinking their blood, and using their skulls for drinking-cups. When a king dies, one of his concubines is strangled and buried with him, and, at the close of a year, fifty of his attendants are strangled, disemboweled, mounted on dead horses, and left in a circle round his tomb. The Scythians passed through Palestine on their road to Egypt, b.c. 600, and a trace of their invasion is supposed to have existed in the name Scythopolis, by which Beth Shean was known in Christ's time. Ezekiel apparently refers to them (38, 39) under the name Gog, which reappears in Revelation. See on Revelation 20:8.

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
Bowels of mercies (σπλάγχνα οἰκτιρμοῦ)

See on 1 Peter 3:8; see on 2 Corinthians 1:3. Rev., a heart of compassion.

Kindness (χρηστότητα)

See on Romans 3:12.

Meekness (πραΰ́τητα)

See on Matthew 5:5.

Long-suffering (μακροθυμίαν)

See on James 5:7.

Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
One another - one another (ἀλλήλων - ἑαυτοῖς)

Lit., one another - yourselves. For a similar variation of the pronoun see Ephesians 4:32; 1 Peter 4:8-10. The latter pronoun emphasizes the fact that they are all members of Christ's body - everyone members one of another - so that, in forgiving each other they forgive themselves.

Quarrel (μομφήν)

Only here in the New Testament. Cause of blame. Rev., complaint. The A.V. uses quarrel in its earlier sense of cause of complaint. So Shakespeare:

"The lady Beatrice hath a quarrel to you."

"Much Ado," ii., 1.

"Against whom comest thou, and what's thy quarrel?"

"Richard II.," i., 3, 33.

Holinshed: "He thought he had a good quarrel to attack him." It was used of a plaintiff's action at law, like the Latin querela.

And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
Above all (ἐπὶ πᾶσιν)

According to the metaphor of the garment. Over all, like an upper garment, put on, etc.


See on 1 Corinthians 13:1.

Bond of perfectness (σύνδεσμος τῆς τελειότητος)

Love embraces and knits together all the virtues. Τελειότης perfectness is a collective idea, a result of combination, to which bond is appropriate. Compare Plato: "But two things cannot be held together without a third; they must have some bond of union. And the fairest bond is that which most completely fuses and is fused into the things which are bound" ("Timaeus," 31).

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

Which comes from Christ. See John 14:27; Ephesians 2:14.

Rule (βραβεύετω)

Lit., be umpire. Only here in the New Testament. See on Colossians 2:18. The previous references to occasions for meekness, long-suffering, forbearance, forgiveness, etc., indicate a conflict of passions and motives in the heart. Christ is the one who adjusts all these, so that the metaphorical sense is appropriate, as in Colossians 2:18.

Called in one body

See Ephesians 4:4. So that ye are in one body according to your call.

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

The only occurrence of the phrase. The word spoken by Christ.


See on Romans 2:4, and compare Colossians 1:27.

In all wisdom

Some connect with the preceding words, others with the following - in all wisdom, teaching, etc. The latter seems preferable, especially in view of Colossians 1:28, where the phrase occurs teaching and admonishing in all wisdom; because the adverb richly forms an emphatic qualification of dwell in, and so appropriately terminates the clause; and because the whole passage is thus more symmetrical. "Dwell in has its single adverb richly, and is supported and expanded by two coordinate participial clauses, each of which has its spiritual manner or element of action (in all wisdom, in grace) more exactly defined" (Ellicott).


See on Colossians 1:28. The participles teaching and admonishing are used as imperatives, as Romans 12:9-13, Romans 12:16-19; Ephesians 4:2, Ephesians 4:3; Hebrews 13:5; 1 Peter 3:1, 1 Peter 3:7, 1 Peter 3:9, 1 Peter 3:16.

One another (ἑαυτούς)

Yourselves. See on Colossians 3:13.


See the parallel passage, Ephesians 5:19. A psalm was originally a song accompanied by a stringed instrument. See on 1 Corinthians 14:15. The idea of accompaniment passed away in usage, and the psalm, in New-Testament phraseology, is an Old-Testament psalm, or a composition having that character. A hymn is a song of praise, and a song (ᾠδή ode) is the general term for a song of any kind. Hymns would probably be distinctively Christian. It is supposed by some that Paul embodies fragments of hymns in his epistles, as 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Ephesians 5:14; 1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Timothy 2:11-14. James 1:17, and Revelation 1:5, Revelation 1:6; Revelation 15:3, are also supposed to be of this character. In both instances of his use of ᾠδή song, Paul adds the term spiritual. The term may, as Trench suggests, denote sacred poems which are neither psalms nor hymns, as Herbert's "Temple," or Keble's "Christian Year." This is the more likely, as the use of these different compositions is not restricted to singing nor to public worship. They are to be used in mutual christian teaching and admonition.

With grace (ἐν τῇ χάριτι)

Lit., the grace. The article limits the meaning to the grace of God. With grace begins the second participial clause.

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.
In the name

See on Matthew 28:19.

Giving thanks

Notice the emphasis on the duty of thanksgiving placed at the close of the exhortations. See Colossians 1:12; Colossians 2:7; Colossians 3:15; Colossians 4:2.

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

Compare the parallel passages, Ephesians 5:22-6:9. See also 1 Peter 2:18-3:7; Titus 2:1-5.

Is fit (ἀνῆκεν)

See on Plm 1:8. The imperfect tense, was fitting, or became fitting, points to the time of their entrance upon the christian life. Not necessarily presupposing that the duty remained unperformed. Lightfoot illustrates by ought, the past tense of owed, and says, "the past tense perhaps implies an essential a priori obligation."

In the Lord

Connect with is fitting, and compare well-pleasing in the Lord, Colossians 3:20.

Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
Be not bitter (μὴ πικραίνεσθε)

Lit., be not embittered. Used only here by Paul. Elsewhere only in Revelation. The compounds παραπικραίνω to exasperate, and παραπικρασμός provocation, occur only in Hebrews 3:16; Hebrews 3:8, Hebrews 3:15. Compare Ephesians 4:31.

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

Expanded in Ephesians 6:2, Ephesians 6:3. Unto the Lord should be in the Lord.

Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
Provoke to anger (ἐρεθίζετε)

Only here and 2 Corinthians 9:2, where it is used of stirring up to good works. To anger is added by A.V.

Be discouraged (ἀθυμῶσιν)

Only here in the New Testament. Lose heart, or become dispirited.

Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:
Masters (κυρίοις)

See on Lord, 2 Peter 2:1, and see on Matthew 21:3. Κύριος Lord and δεσπότης master came to be used interchangeably in the New Testament, though originally the latter involved such authority as is implied in our use of despot, or in the relation of a master to a slave. The Greeks applied δεσπότης only to the gods.

With eye-service (ἐν ὀφθαλμοδουλείαις)

Only here and Ephesians 6:6. The word seems to have been coined by Paul.

Men pleasers (ἀνθρωπάρεσκοι)

Only here and Ephesians 6:6. Compare Plato: "And this art he will not attain without a great deal of trouble, which a good man ought to undergo, not for the sake of speaking and acting before men, but in order that he may be able to say what is acceptable to God, and always to act acceptably to Him as far as in him lies. For there is a saying of wiser men than ourselves, that a man of sense should not try to please his fellow-servants (at least this should not be his first object), but his good and noble masters" ("Phaedrus," 273).

Singleness (ἁπλότητι)

See on Romans 12:8. Without duplicity or doubleness.

Fearing the Lord (τὸν Κύριον)

The one Master contrasted with the masters (κυρίοις) according to the flesh. The parallel in Ephesians 6:5, has as unto Christ.

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Ye do - do it (ποιῆτε - ἐργάζεσθε)

Rev., correctly, ye do - work; the latter being the stronger term as opposed to idleness. See on James 2:9. An idle man may do. Compare ἐργασία diligence, Luke 12:58.

Heartily (ἐκ ψυχῆς)

Lit., from the soul. With a personal interest. Note that the apostle uses both heart (καρδίας, Colossians 3:22) and soul (ψυχῆς); and in Ephesians 6:7, adds μετ' εὐνοίας with good disposition (A.V., good will). See on Romans 11:3; see on Romans 7:23; see on Romans 1:21. Compare σύμψυχοι of one accord, Philippians 2:2; ἰσόψυχον like-minded, Philippians 2:20; μιᾷ ψυχῇ with one mind, Philippians 1:27.

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

Which consists or is in the inheritance. Compare the similar construction, Colossians 1:12. See Matthew 21:35-38, where the δοῦλος bond-servant and the κληρονόμος heir are contrasted; and Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 4:1-7.

For ye serve (γὰρ δουλεύετε)

Omit for. Some take the verb as imperative, serve ye; but the indicative is better as explaining from the Lord.

But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.
He that doeth wrong (ὁ ἀδικῶν)

Compare Plm 1:18. The reference is primarily to the slave; but the following clause extends it to the master. If the slave do wrong, he shall be punished; but the master who does wrong will not be excused, for there is no respect of persons. Tychicus, who carried this letter to Colossae, carried at the same time the letter to Philemon, and escorted Onesimns to his master.

Shall receive (κομίσεται)

See on 1 Peter 1:8. Compare Ephesians 6:8.

Respect of persons

See on James 2:1. In the Old Testament it has, more commonly, a good sense, of kindly reception, favorable regard. In the New Testament always a bad sense, which came to it through the meaning of mask which attached to πρόσωπον face.

Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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