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Colossians 3:5-11

Context
3:5 So put to death whatever in your nature belongs to the earth: 1  sexual immorality, impurity, shameful passion, 2  evil desire, and greed which is idolatry. 3:6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience. 3  3:7 You also lived your lives 4  in this way at one time, when you used to live among them. 3:8 But now, put off all such things 5  as anger, rage, malice, slander, abusive language from your mouth. 3:9 Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with its practices 3:10 and have been clothed with the new man 6  that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it. 3:11 Here there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave 7  or free, but Christ is all and in all.

1 tn Grk “the members which are on the earth.” See BDAG 628 s.v. μέλος 1, “put to death whatever in you is worldly.”

2 tn Or “lust.”

3 tc The words ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας (epi tou" Juiou" th" apeiqeia", “on the sons of disobedience”) are lacking in Ì46 B b sa, but are found in א A C D F G H I Ψ 075 0278 33 1739 1881 Ï lat sy bo. The words are omitted by several English translations (NASB, NIV, ESV, TNIV). This textual problem is quite difficult to resolve. On the one hand, the parallel account in Eph 5:6 has these words, thus providing scribes a motive for adding them here. On the other hand, the reading without the words may be too hard: The ἐν οἷς (en |oi") of v. 7 seems to have no antecedent without υἱούς already in the text, although it could possibly be construed as neuter referring to the vice list in v. 5. Further, although the witness of B is especially important, there are other places in which B and Ì46 share errant readings of omission. Nevertheless, the strength of the internal evidence against the longer reading is at least sufficient to cause doubt here. The decision to retain the words in the text is less than certain.

sn The expression sons of disobedience is a Semitic idiom that means “people characterized by disobedience.” In this context it refers to “all those who are disobedient.” Cf. Eph 5:6.

4 tn Grk “you also walked.” The verb περιπατέω (peripatew) is commonly used in the NT to refer to behavior or conduct of one’s life (L&N 41.11).

5 tn The Greek article with τὰ πάντα (ta panta) is anaphoric, referring to the previous list of vices, and has been translated here as “all such things.”

6 sn Put off all such things. The commands in vv. 8-9 are based on two reasons given in vv. 9-10 – reasons which are expressed in terms of a metaphor about clothing oneself. Paul says that they have put off the old man and have put on the new man. Two things need to be discussed in reference to Paul’s statement. (1) What is the meaning of the clothing imagery (i.e., the “have put off” and “have been clothed”)? (2) What is the meaning of the old man and the new man? Though some commentators understand the participles “have put off” (v. 9) and “have been clothed” (v. 10) as imperatives (i.e., “put off!” and “put on!”), this use of participles is extremely rare in the NT and thus unlikely here. It is better to take them as having the semantic force of indicatives, and thus they give an explanation of what had happened to the Colossians at the time of their conversion – they had taken off the old man and put on the new when they trusted in Christ (cf. 1:4). While it is difficult to say for certain what the background to Paul’s “clothing” metaphor might be (whether it is primarily Jewish and comes from the OT, or primarily Gentile and comes from some facet of the Greco-Roman religious milieu), it is nonetheless clear, on the basis of Paul’s usage of the expression, that the old man refers to man as he is in Adam and dominated by sin (cf. Rom 6:6; Eph 4:22), while the new man refers to the Christian whose new sphere of existence is in Christ. Though the metaphor of clothing oneself primarily reflects outward actions, there is a distinct inward aspect to it, as the rest of v. 10 indicates: being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it. Paul’s point, then, is that Christians should take off their dirty clothing (inappropriate behavior) and put on clean clothing (behavior consistent with knowing Christ) because this has already been accomplished in a positional sense at the time of their conversion (cf. Gal 3:27 with Rom 13:14).

7 tn See the note on “fellow slave” in 1:7.



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