Colossians Chapter 3:1-17 Sunday School Notes

1. Craig Keener, IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament

2. NET Bible, First Edition (Online)

3. Philip Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary

4. Wenham, Motyer, Carson, France New Bible Commentary, 21st Century Edition

5. Hawthorne, Martin, Reid, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters

6. Barclay Newman Greek English Dictionary of the New Testament

7. G. Milligan and J.H. Moulton Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament

Col 3:1–4
1–2 Having been raised with Christ, the Colossians now share his new life, seated in Heaven at the right hand of the Father. Thus like Christ, the Colossians are to think and live as in Heaven.

3 The reasons for their living differently, as in Heaven, are two:

1) The Colossians died to the world and the dark spiritual powers that run it when they became one with Christ.
2) Their new life is “hidden with the Messiah in God”. The Colossians, and by inference all Christians, are united with Christ, who is both God incarnate and also the perfect follower of God, and thus in God in a unique way, which he brings his followers in with Him.

4 This new life in Christ is hidden from the world, as Christ’s reign over all creation is hidden. Come the second coming, the royal visitation of Christ, the parousia, not only will Christ be revealed to the world, but so will His people, His followers. In glory is how it is described for Christ will appear in glory, accompanied by the angels and displaying Goldy majesty, but also for His believers this will be when they receive their eternal bodies, far more glorious than the weak vessels we wear in our brief mortal lives. (NBC)

KJV: our life
HCSB: your life

The Greek for our (umon) and your (emon) were essentially pronounced the same in ancient times, making it easy for scribes to put down the wrong pronoun if they were writing from dictation. It is also true that the second person pronoun is used in verse three preceding this, and again a little later in verse 4, making scribes inclined to “correct” “your” to “our”. (Comfort, Metzger, NET)

5 Put to death links back to 2:20 and 3:3’s reminder that Christians die with Christ. Verses five and eight have two lists of five sins each, in what is referred to as a vice list. Lists of vices and virtues were a very common teaching method in the whole ancient Mediterranean world. Such lists were used not only for instruction in general, but also in speeches encouraging virtue and speeches against supposed practitioners of the vices. Paul’s vice lists function in several ways themselves:

1. To Show the Immorality of Unbelievers
2. To Exhort Believers to avoid Vices and Practice Virtues
3. To Show and Denounce the problems of False Teachers (DPL)

The sins listed here were those Jews typically attributed to Gentiles (Keener)

sexual immorality fornication: porneia: (of various kinds of ‘unsanctioned sexual intercourse’)

1) unlawful sexual intercourse, prostitution, unchastity, fornication
2) participation in prohibited degrees of marriage, fornication
3) immorality of a transcendent nature, fornication (BDAG)

impurity, uncleanness: akatharsia: impurity, immorality; impure motive (1 Th 2:3); filth, rottenness (Mt 23:27)
1)lit. any substance that is filthy or dirty, refuse
2)fig. a state of moral corruption immorality, vileness esp. of sexual sins(BDAG)

lust, inordinate affection: pathos in the NT has always a bad connotation “passion,” “lust” (M&M)

evil desire, evil concupiscence: epithumia kakos

1) a great desire for something, desire, longing, craving
2)a desire for something forbidden or simply inordinate, craving, lust(BDAG)
kakos: evil, bad, wrong; injury, harm (as a noun); foul, troublesome (sore) (Newman)

greed, covetousness: pleonexia the state of desiring to have more than one’s due, greediness, insatiableness, avarice, covetousness(BDAG)

God’s wrath is not spite or a burst of anger. It is his holy judgement against sin. “Comes. Cometh” shows that this judgement is a present as well as a future apocalyptic thing.(NBC)

Col 3:7 Paul reminds the Colossians that they “once” lived in these sins, but now they are with Christ, and their lives are to be different.

Col 3:8
Now believers are to get rid of, to throw off like old clothes their old emotions that ruined their relationships with others and God.(NBC)

These sins are ones that Stoic philosophers and Jewish teachers advised their pupils to rid themselves off, vices considered common to all mankind, but still unacceptable.(Keener)
anger: orge wrath, anger; retribution, punishment; revenge(Newman)

wrath: thumos anger, rage, jury; intense feeling(Newman)

malice: kakia

1) the quality or state of wickedness, baseness, depravity, wickedness, vice.
2) a mean-spirited or vicious attitude or disposition, malice, ill-will, malignity
3) a state involving difficult circumstances, trouble, misfortune (BDAG)

slander, blasphemy: blasphemia speaking against God, blasphemy; speaking against, slander, insulting talk(Newman)

filthy language, filthy communication aischrologia speech of a kind that is generally considered in poor taste, obscene speech, dirty talk (BDAG)

Col 3:9-10
The old self mentioned here reflects Paul’s notion of corporate personality, that Adam stood for all mankind, and in his failure condemned all mankind to domination by sin. When Christ came, and conquered sin as the new corporate representative of mankind, He freed His people to live outside sin’s power, thus the new self. This is the new state of mankind expected in the prophets at the new age of the world, which Paul sees as having begun with Christ’s resurrection. The language of image goes back to Genesis, both as mankind being created in God’s image and falling into something less, Adam’s image, perhaps. With Christ’s coming, mankind is taken back to God’s image, for Christ’s followers are in His image, and Christ is the very image of God.(NBC, Keener)

Col 3:11
Paul sees being in Christ both as a reason to eliminate distinctions between people and likely a reason to sympathize and empathize with all others. It is especially a reason for unity among believers, who are all in Christ, members of Christ.(NBC)

Col 3:12
Paul now lists five virtues, fruits of the Spirit, usually connected with God. Chosen, holy, and loved are terms used in the OT for Israel.

heartfelt compassion, bowels of mercies: if Greek splagchna oiktirmou is a hendiadys then it would be “compassion” or “tenderheartedness.”(NET)

1) the inward parts of a body, including esp. the viscera, inward parts, entrails
2) as often in the ancient world, inner body parts served as referents for psychological aspects (s. καρδία): of the seat of the emotions, in our usage a transference is made to the rendering heart(BDAG)
oiktirmos compassion, mercy, pity(Newman)

kindness: chrestotes ‘usefulness, helpfulness’
1) uprightness in one’s relations with others, uprightness
2) the quality of being helpful or beneficial, goodness, kindness, generosity(BDAG)

humility, humbleness of mind: tapeinophrosune humility; false humility (Newman)

gentleness, meekness: prautes the quality of not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance, gentleness, humility, courtesy, considerateness, meekness(BDAG)

Col 3:13
Paul’s stress on forgiveness here is not only the result of God’s forgiveness and expected of Christ’s people, it is also a practical thing to stress as Paul seeks to bring the factions within the Colossian church together again.

KJV: Christ forgave
HCSB: the Lord has forgiven

“Lord” is found in the earliest manuscripts (p46, A,B). “Christ” is a scribal interpretation of lord = Christ.

Col 3:14
Love, considered a great virtue even among the Greco-Romans and Jews, is repeatedly deemed the supreme virtue in the NT and later Christian writings. It is the bond which unites believers and all the previously mentioned virtues as well. (NBC, Keener)

KJV: sundesmos tes teleistetos “bond of perfection”, “perfect bond”
HCSB: perfect bond of unity. This is an apparent mix of the standard reading “perfect bond” with a variant “bond of unity” found in some manuscripts, evidently influenced by Eph 4:3. The HCSB is a strange reading here.

Col 3:15
Christ is the prince of peace, he brings peace to his followers. Christians are called into Christ’s realm of peace, to be guided in their hearts and actions by the virtue of peace.(NBC)

KJV: peace of God
HCSB: peace of Christ

The KJV reading is a later change (500s AD and after) to match the text to Phil 4:7(Comfort)

Col 3:16
“Word of Christ” is very likely “the message about the Messiah”, the gospel, which would guide the Colossian church’s activities when gathered together.

KJV: to the Lord
HCSB: to God

Another scribal assimilation, this time to Eph 5:19, a parallel passage(Comfort)

Col 3:17
While there was a lot of religion in the ancient world, a great deal of it had a ritual aspect that did not guide how people lived. Paul, instead, insists Christians be completely guided in the lives by Christ.

KJV: God and Father
HCSB: God the Father

Another scribal assimilation, this time to Eph 5:20.(Comfort)


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