1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ living in Colossae: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father.
Gratitude for God’s Grace
3 We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you;1 4 for we have heard about your faith in Christ Jesus, and about the love you have for all the saints, 5 both of which flow from the hope2 that is stored up in heaven for you, a hope you first heard about in the message of God’s truth:3 the gospel 6 that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has done among you since the day you first heard it and came to understand the grace of God in truth— 7 that is, since4 you learned it from our beloved fellow servant, Epaphras, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our5 behalf, and 8 who also told us about your love in the Spirit.
Prayer for God’s Grace
9 For this reason, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,6 10 so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 We also ask that, in accordance with his glorious might, you may be strengthened with all power, for all endurance and all steadfastness, joyfully 12 giving7 thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to partake of the inheritance of the saints in the realm of the light. 13 For he8 has delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption: the forgiveness of our sins.
Prerogatives of the Divine Christ
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, both in the heavens and on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through him and for him; 17 and he is before all things, and in him all things are held together.9 18 He is also the head of the body, the church; and he is the beginning—the firstborn from the dead—so that he himself might have the preeminence10 in all things. 19 For it pleased God that all the fullness should dwell in him,11 20 and that having made peace through the blood of his cross, all things should be reconciled to himself, whether things on the earth or things in the heavens.
Redemption in Christ
21 And you—who formerly were alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds— 22 he now has reconciled through the death of Christ’s physical body,12 in order to present you holy, blameless, and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded, steadfast, and never moved away from the hope of the good news you heard, news that has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have been made a minister.
Marks of a Minister of Christ
24 Now I rejoice in the things I suffer for your sake as13 I fill up in my flesh whatever is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, doing so for the benefit of his body, which is the church. 25 In accordance with the stewardship that God gave to me for your benefit, I have become her servant, with a charge to fully proclaim14 the word of God, 26 the mystery hidden from ages and generations gone by, but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God was pleased to reveal how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery,15 which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 He is the one we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, so that we may present every man mature and complete in Christ Jesus. 29 And I too labor towards this end,16 striving in accordance with the working of Christ himself,17 which works in me with great power.
- Or We give thanks . . . always praying for you
- Lit. saints, because of the hope
- Lit. the word of the truth of the gospel
- Lit. just as
- Some mss your
- Or spiritual wisdom and understanding
- Or all steadfastness (longsuffering) with joy, giving
- Lit. who
- Or continue and cohere; lit. hold together
- Lit. might come to hold first place
- Lit. For in him he was pleased (for) all the fullness to dwell; or possibly, For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell
- Lit. by the body of his flesh through death
- Lit. and
- Lit. to fulfill
- Lit. reveal what is the wealth of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles
- Lit. to this end also I labor
- Lit. according to his working
The Quest for Full Assurance
2 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for all who have not yet seen me face to face.1 2 My deep desire and prayer is that their hearts, having been knit together in love, may be strengthened and encouraged to such an extent that they will possess2 all the riches of the full assurance that comes from understanding,3 and that they will fully know4 the mystery of God—which is Christ himself— 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I say this so that no one will deceive you with persuasive arguments. 5 For though I am absent in the flesh, I am present with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. 6 Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as5 Lord, so too you must live6 in him: 7 rooted and built up in him, firmly established in the faith just as you were taught it, and always overflowing with thanksgiving.
The All-sufficient Christ
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world-system, rather than according to Christ. 9 For all the fullness of the godhead7 dwells in him in bodily form; 10 and in him you have been made complete,8 who is the head over all rule and authority.
11 In him you also were circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands, but accomplished through9 the putting off of the body of the flesh: through the circumcision performed by10 Christ. 12 For you were11 buried with him in baptism, in which also you were raised with him through faith in the mighty working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And when you were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God brought you to life together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 having blotted out the certificate of debt that stood against us with all its legal demands.12 Indeed, he has completely taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross; 15 and having stripped the rulers and authorities of their power, he made a public spectacle of them all, triumphing over them through it.13
Beware of Legalism
16 So then: Let no one act as your judge with respect to food and drink, or in regard to a festival, a new moon, or various Sabbath days. 17 Such things are mere shadows of what was yet to come, whereas the substance14 belongs to Christ.
Beware of Mysticism
18 Let no one rob you of your prize, delighting himself in self-abasement and the worship of angels, going on and on about the things he has seen, inflated for no good reason by his fleshly mind, 19 and failing to hold firmly to the head, from whom the whole body—nourished and knit together by its joints and ligaments—grows with a growth that comes from God.
Beware of Asceticism
20 If you died with Christ to15 the elementary principles of the world-system, why, as though you were still living in the world, do you subject yourselves to its regulations— 21 “Don’t touch! Don’t taste! Don’t handle!” 22 (all of which refer to things meant to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of mere men? 23 These do indeed give an appearance of wisdom in the form of self-made religion, and of a false humility displayed in the severe treatment of the body; but they are of no value whatsoever against the indulgence of the flesh.16
- Lit. my face in the flesh
- Lit. even unto
- Lit. of understanding
- Lit. understanding, unto the full (accurate, intimate) knowledge of
- Lit. the
- Lit. walk
- Or deity
- Or been filled, fulfilled
- Lit. by
- Lit. of
- Lit. having been
- Lit. ordinances, decrees, judgments
- Or him (Christ)
- Lit. the body (itself)
- Lit. from
- Or possibly of no value whatsoever, leading only to the indulgence of the flesh
The New Man in Christ
3 If, then, you were raised together 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, and not on the things of this earth.1 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God; 4 and when Christ, who is our life, appears, you too will appear with him in glory.
5 Therefore you must put to death all that is earthly within you:2 sexual immorality, uncleanness, base passion, evil desire, and covetousness (which is idolatry). 6 Because of these things, the wrath of God will come. 7 And you yourselves once walked in them, when your lives were governed by them.3 8 But now you must put off all these as well: anger, wrath, malice, slander,4 and obscene talk out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, for you have put off the old man, together with all his practices, 10 and have put on the new man, who is being renewed to true spiritual knowledge as he takes on5 the image of the One who created him. 11 Here6 there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, or free, but Christ is all, and in all.
12 Therefore, as the chosen ones of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and longsuffering. 13 If there are any grievances among you,7 bear with one another and forgive one another: as the Lord also forgave you, so you also should forgive. 14 And above all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond for uniting you as one.8 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which also9 you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell among you richly, in all wisdom10 teaching and admonishing one another, and with psalms,11 hymns and spiritual songs singing with grace12 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 to God the Father through him.
18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is proper in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and never let yourselves be embittered against them.13 20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. 21 Fathers, don’t press14 your children too hard, or they may lose heart. 22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters15 in all things, not with mere eye-service, as men-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whatever you do, work at it heartily, as you would for the Lord, and not simply for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.16 It is the Lord Christ whom you serve! 25 But he who does wrong will pay for the wrong he has done; and there is no partiality with God. 4:1 As for you masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.
- Lit. the things upon the earth
- Lit. your members which are on the earth
- Or (with many mss): the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience, among whom also you formerly walked, when you lived among them (or, in these things)
- Or blasphemy
- Lit. according to
- Lit. where
- Lit. if anyone has a complaint about anyone
- Lit. which is the perfect uniting bond
- Or indeed
- Or in (among) you richly in all wisdom, teaching
- Or one another with psalms
- Or gratitude
- Lit. do not be embittered toward them
- Lit. provoke (to a negative response)
- Lit. masters according to the flesh
- Lit. from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance
4 2 Commit yourselves to a life of prayer, being watchful in it, with thanksgiving. 3 And at the same time pray for us as well, that God would open a door for us to preach the word; that we might declare1 the mystery of Christ, for which also I am in chains. 4 Moreover, pray that when I do make it known, I may speak clearly, just as I should.2 5 Walk in wisdom towards those on the outside, redeeming the time. 6 Let your words3 always be filled with grace—seasoned with salt—so that you may know how you should respond to each one.
7 Tychicus—our beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord—will tell you all the news about me. 8 I am sending him to you for this very reason: so that you may know our circumstances, and that he may encourage your hearts. 9 He is coming with Onesimus, the faithful and beloved brother who is part of your fellowship.4 They will tell you about everything that is happening here.
10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, greets you, along with Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (you have received instructions about him: If he comes to you, you are to welcome him), 11 and Jesus, who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who belong to the circumcision, and they have been a great comfort to me.
12 Epaphras, a member of your fellowship and a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, greets you. He is constantly wrestling in prayer on your behalf, so that you will stand complete and fully assured in all God’s will. 13 For I bear him witness that he is deeply concerned about you,5 and about those in Laodicea and Hierapolis as well.
14 Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, as does Demas. 15 Greet the brothers in Laodicea, along with Nympha and the church that meets in her house.
Exhortation and Blessing
16 Now when this letter is read among you, make sure it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and make sure you also read the letter that comes from Laodicea.
17 Finally,6 say to Archippus, “See to it that you fulfill the ministry you received in the Lord.”
18 I, Paul, write this salutation with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you all. Amen.
- Lit. open to us a door of the word to speak
- Lit. that I might manifest it, as it is necessary for me to speak
- Lit. word, speech
- Lit. who is (one) of you
- Or works hard for you; lit. has much pain concerning you
- Lit. And