What does Colossians 3:5 mean?
ESV: Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
NIV: Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
NASB: Therefore, treat the parts of your earthly body as dead to sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.
CSB: Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.
NLT: So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
KJV: Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
NKJV: Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Verse Commentary:
Because of the new life believers are given in Christ, they are to end certain practices and focus on others. Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8–9), yet believers are to also seek to live holy lives before Christ. Verses 5–11 in this chapter focus on those worldly, sinful practices which Christians should stop. Verses 12–17 emphasize those godly, positive practices believers ought to live by.

Verse 5 begins with an interesting combination of Greek phrases. Paul uses the term nekrōsate, which is a commanding word, meaning "put it to death!" This is followed by the phrase, ta epi tēs gēs, literally meaning "your members that are upon the earth." In no uncertain terms, Paul is instructing his readers not to let their body do whatever it wants. Rather, they are to live by Christ's desires for our lives. In particular, Paul calls out five specific sins which Christians are to "put to death" in their physical bodies.

First, believers are to abstain from sexual immorality. This is from the Greek term porneian, a general term for sexual sins. This can include premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality, or deviant sexuality such as bestiality.

Second, Paul speaks against impurity, or spiritual uncleanness. Again, this general sin can refer to many things, such as evil thoughts or actions.

Third, Paul mentions "passion," also translated as "lust, or inordinate affection." These are inappropriate cravings which distract us from the things above, and lead us to commit the sins of immorality and impurity.

Fourth, "evil desire" likely includes wanting things which are wrong, whether sexual desires or material things.

Fifth, Paul refers to "covetousness, which is idolatry." Paul considered jealousy over what others have as a form of idol worship.
Verse Context:
Colossians 3:1–11 encourages Christian believers to focus their attention on godly, spiritual things. Those who are spiritually free, thanks to their faith in Christ, should not live in the sins which used to be their habit. Paul specifically refers to certain sins such as sexual immorality, jealousy, slander, lying, and revenge. These are not simply to be avoided: Paul tells believers to ''put to death'' such behaviors in their own lives. All believers are united in Christ, so all believers should act as people committed to their Savior. The next passage will contrast these sins with the positive behaviors Christians are meant to undertake.
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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