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Colossians 3:19

ESV Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
NIV Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
NASB Husbands, love your wives and do not become bitter against them.
CSB Husbands, love your wives and don’t be bitter toward them.
NLT Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.
KJV Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
NKJV Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.

What does Colossians 3:19 mean?

Following his instruction to wives in the previous verse, Paul teaches husbands. Men are to show care, concern, and gentleness with their wives. Note that, in the prior verse, wives were given a single command. Here, husbands are given two.

First is the obligation to love their wives. A form of the Greek word agape is used here. This term indicates an unselfish, sacrificial love for another. The Bible is consistent in its portrayal of a proper husband-wife relationship (Ephesians 5:22-–33). Men are meant to be the leaders of the home. At the same time, there is no room in Scripture for husbands to be abusive or unfair. Nor is there anything suggesting male superiority: on the contrary, a properly functioning marriage should have the same kind of equality-with-submission found in the Trinity itself (Colossians 1:19; Philippians 2:6; Matthew 26:42; Luke 22:42).

Paul's second command is a direct counter to Colossae's prevailing attitudes about husbands and wives. In that time and place, women were not given equal value and representation in their culture. The culture of Paul's day told men that they had the power—and the right—to be domineering and severe to their wives. In fact, Paul uses the Greek term pikrainesthe, which implies bitterness, irritation, and frustration.

Women and men are equally created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Paul elsewhere instructed husbands to live in kindness toward their wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave His life for it (Ephesians 5:25). Here, he commands men not to exasperate their wives, but rather care for them and treat them with kindness.
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