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Colossians chapter 3

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What does Colossians chapter 3 mean?

Paul frequently establishes spiritual concepts as ideas first, then moves into applying them. His letter to the Colossians does the same. Chapters 1 and 2 set the stage by showing how the teachings of Christ are superior to all other claims. With that established, Chapter 3 transitions to practical matters within the church.

First, Paul addresses topics related to Christian conduct (Colossians 3:1–17). This begins with a focus on the new life believers have in Jesus (Colossians 3:1–4). This focus involves Christians giving attention to godly, spiritual ideas, rather than sinful, earthly ones. Paul uses strong terminology when describing how believers are to remove certain sins from their lives: they are to "put to death," spiritually speaking, all earthly, sinful desires (Colossians 3:5–11). Paul gives specific examples of sins Christians are meant to avoid, including sexual immorality and slander.

Instead of wallowing in sin, Christians are to put on the "new self" (Colossians 3:12–17), doing all things for the glory of God (Colossians 3:17). Paul commends positive behaviors which Christians are to imitate. Among these are patience and humility, but the most important is love. Christian love is what allows imperfect, diverse people to be bound together as one spiritual body. This perspective will be renewed later in the chapter, as well, when Paul reminds his readers that God is an impartial judge of all men, slave or free.

In the latter part of this passage, Paul addresses Christian households, including "bondservants," or slaves (Colossians 3:18—4:1). This begins with a brief word to wives (Colossians 3:18), followed by husbands (Colossians 3:19). Children and fathers are then addressed (Colossians 3:20–21). Included in this discussion of Christian households are guidelines for bondservants (Colossians 3:22—4:1). They were to be obedient to their masters (Colossians 3:22), working as for the Lord (Colossians 3:23).

Chapter 4, verse 1 is actually the end of this discussion. There, Paul specifically warns masters to heed his instructions in chapter 3. God is the Master in Heaven over all mankind, and He expects those who serve as masters to be fair.
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