What does Colossians 3:13 mean?
ESV: bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
NIV: Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
NASB: bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so must you do also.
CSB: bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.
NLT: Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
KJV: Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
Verse Commentary:
In Colossians 3:9, Paul emphasized the importance of honesty among fellow believers. There, he advises believers not to lie to one another. In this verse, he suggests a positive trait believers ought to express toward each other: "bearing with one another." Believers are family and should treat one another with kindness and grace. This includes forgiveness, as well as tolerance. Instead of demanding perfection in others, we need to be willing to endure other believers' quirks and oddities. And, when they fail, we need to be ready to forgive and help them heal.

For the saved believer, this should come naturally. Those who accept Christ for salvation have been forgiven of their sins; as a result, we ought to be inclined to forgive other people (Matthew 6:14–15; Ephesians 4:32). Paul directly supports his command to forgive one another by appealing to this forgiveness from God. How did the Lord forgive them? He forgave them of all sins, with no room for wrath or vengeance. Believers are to likewise forgive one another without holding a grudge or bringing the matter up again in order to hurt the other person.
Verse Context:
Colossians 3:12–17 follows Paul's advice on sins to avoid by listing positive traits Christians should strive to emulate. Among these are compassion, humility, patience, and forgiveness. More important than any other is love, which not only inspires the other traits, but which binds Christians together as a single family, under Christ. Paul then opens the idea of following Christ to include every aspect of our lives: whatever we think or do, as believers, ought to be compatible with the example of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Chapter Summary:
In this chapter, Paul gives clear instructions to Christians about living out faith in Christ. Since believers have been saved by Christ, they should not participate in the sins which trap unbelievers. Sexual immorality, jealousy, slander, and revenge are not to be part of the Christian's life. Instead, believers ought to demonstrate compassion, humility, patience, and forgiveness. Above all, followers of Christ should show love. Paul also gives specific instructions for those living in Christian homes, including husbands, wives, children, and servants.
Chapter Context:
Prior chapters in Colossians emphasized the supremacy of Jesus, and the inferiority of worldly teachings. Paul's explanation of Christ as the ultimate authority, and the only source of truth, is key to understanding the difference between godly wisdom and worldly deceptions. In this chapter, Paul will apply those earlier ideas using practical instructions. This application runs through the beginning of chapter 4, which will end with various news about fellow Christian ministers.
Book Summary:
The book of Colossians describes Christ as superior to all other teachers, faiths, and philosophies. In this letter, written from prison, Paul once again tackles false teachings. Among these errors are claims that Christians need to give up all physical enjoyments, that they should worship angels, and that they need to rely on the wisdom of an elite few. These problems are consistent with an ancient heresy known as Gnosticism. In response, Paul explains that Christ is supreme, and sufficient for our salvation.
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