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Colossians 3

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Chapter Summary

  • v1-4 This chapter starts off with two commands that at first sound very similar, but although they are related, they are both distinct:

set your hearts on things above (v1)
set your minds on things above (v2)

  • Verse one translates literally like this: seek / look for / desire things that are above (Christ-like things),

  • Verse two literally calls you to think about those things.

    • In other words, make it your top priority to look for ways to make Christ the center of all you do,

    • and then when you find those ways, keep your mental focus on those things rather than the mundane distractions of life.

  • v5-11 - This entire chapter stems from the fact that "you've been raised with Christ." Think about the logic here: if Christ is no longer on earth, but is in heaven, and you've been raised with Him, therefore you are not of this world. Eternity is not something you're waiting for; it's here, right now. Look at the aggressive command you've been given as you progress in your eternal life: PUT TO DEATH whatever belongs to your old, earthly nature.

    • As a citizen of God's kingdom, stop doing things that will evoke God's wrath.

      • Take off your old, filthy, sinful clothes which are part of your old self.

      • Put on your new self which is being renewed so that you look like Christ.

  • v12-4:1 - Since you've been chosen by God, you have an obligation to look like Him (just as if you were drafted by the Twins, you'd have an obligation to wear a Twins uniform). This final passage gives all sorts of practical advice on how your new life in Christ should look:

    • Be clothed in God's attributes (compassion, kindness, etc), and bind your outfit together with love.

    • Let Christ's peace govern your life.

    • Be thankful, and immerse yourself in an environment where God's Word will surround you.

    • In everything you do, glorify God.

    • This command to kill off your old, earthly nature comes no matter your station in life:

      • Wives submit to husbands, husbands love their wives, children submit to their parents, and parents should not be hard on their children.

        • Interestingly, the longest instruction is given to slaves (most people in the Roman society were slaves).

        • "Setting your mind on things above" doesn't give an excuse to slack off on the everyday jobs that need to be done,

          • rather it means that you do your job as if you're working directly for the Lord!

          • Not only will you be blessed by doing so with an earthly paycheck, but your work here and now will earn you an "inheritance from the Lord as a reward (v24)!"

      • Employers as well are commanded to treat their employees well, because all bosses have a boss in heaven.


We often emphasize that our salvation is by grace alone through faith alone and that our actions do not contribute one iota to our salvation. But this does not mean that our good actions will not be rewarded when God makes all things new. We see that in v24 of Colossians 3, and we see this concept presented numerous places in scripture, including Psalm 62:11-12.


Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:

  1. EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: Paul says in verse 12 that we are God’s elect and chosen people, and should therefore put on (or clothe ourselves with) five qualities. One of them is kindness. How many of the other four can you name?

  2. If everyone in your church thoroughly understood this chapter, and had a passion for living out its truth, what kind of practical changes do you think would result?

Questions 1-2 taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament

Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God the father, the one in whom our life is hidden (v3)

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask God to help you set your heart and mind on things above (v1-2)



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