Colossians 3 Commentary


Old and new habits (3:5-17)

Not only do Christians believe that through Christ’s death they have died to sin, but they must also show it to be true in their daily lives. They must make every effort to put away the old selfish habits that God hates, from obvious sins such as sexual immorality to hidden sins such as greed and other uncontrolled desires (5-7). They must control the tongue and discipline personal behaviour. This renewing of their lives is not something that happens only once. It must go on all the time, so that more of the old nature is conquered and the new person is more like God (8-10).

Since the goal of the Christian life is to become like Christ, there is no way that Christians can be divided into superior or inferior classes according to race, culture or social status. All are equal in him, united in him, and should strive to be like him (11).

Believers should put off old sinful habits as they would put off dirty clothes. They should put on new good habits as they would put on fresh clean clothes. They should have a new attitude, which thinks of others before thinking of self. It is as if the new ‘clothes’ they have just put on are bound together by love, so that their appearance is one of genuine beauty and completeness (12-14).


Within the church there are people of various personalities and social backgrounds, but they can all live together in harmony through allowing the peace-loving spirit of Christ to guide their actions.

Through teaching and singing they can build one another up in the faith. At all times and in all places they should live and act as new people in Christ (15-17).

Life in the home and in society (3:18-4:6)

Harmony in the home depends on the husband’s showing understanding love to his wife, and the wife’s showing loyal submission to her husband (18-19). Children are to be obedient to their parents, but parents must treat their children with understanding and not be harsh or unreasonable (20-21). When slaves work for their masters as if they were working for the Lord Christ, they will produce work of good quality. Masters, on their part, must reward their slaves fairly, knowing that they too have a master, God, and he will treat them as they treat others (22-4:1).

Christians must be regular and persistent in prayer. They must keep alert as they pray, for they can be easily distracted (2). They should specifically pray for the servants of God with whom they are partners in the gospel, that God’s messengers may have opportunities to make known his message, and that they may do so clearly (3-4). Besides praying for the activity of others, Christians should be careful of their own conduct, and make sure their speech is pleasant to listen to and sensible. In this way they will attract, and not repel, those who are not believers (5-6).

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