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Colossians


The centre of Christian belief

  1.Salutation summer 58ce (Colossae)

1FROM PAUL,
APOSTLE of Christ Jesus commissioned by the will of God,
and our colleague Timothy,
2to God's people at Colossae, brothers in the faith, incorporate in Christ.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

Paul Thanks God for the Colossians.

3In all our prayers to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we thank him for you, 4because we have heard of the faith you hold in Christ Jesus, and the love you bear towards all God's people. 5Both spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven—that hope of which you learned when the message of the true Gospel first came to you. 6In the same way it is coming to men the whole world over; everywhere it is growing and bearing fruit as it does among you, and has done since the day when you heard of the graciousness of God and recognized it for what in truth it is. 7You were taught this by Epaphras, our dear fellow-servant, a trusted worker for Christ on our [Some witnesses read: your.] behalf, 8and it is he who has brought us the news of your God-given love. [Or: your love within the fellowship of the Spirit.]

9For this reason, ever since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you. We ask God that you may receive from him all wisdom and spiritual understanding for full insight into his will, 10so that your manner of life may be worthy of the Lord and entirely pleasing to him. We pray that you may bear fruit in active goodness of every kind, and grow in the knowledge of God. 11May he strengthen you, in his glorious might, with ample power to meet whatever comes with fortitude, patience, and joy; 12and to give thanks [Or: with fortitude and patience, and to give joyful thanks ...] to the Father who has made you fit to share the heritage of God's people in the realm of light.

13He rescued us from the domain of darkness and brought us away into the kingdom of his dear Son, 14in whom our release is secured and our sins forgiven.

The Person and Work of Christ.

15He is the image of the invisible God;
his is the primacy over [Or: image of the invisible God, born before ...] all created things.
16In him everything in heaven and on earth was created,
not only things visible but also the invisible orders of thrones, sovereignties, authorities, and powers:
the whole universe has been created through him and for him.
17And he exists before everything,
and all things are held together in him.
18He is, moreover, the head of the body, the church.
He is its origin, the first to return from the dead, to be in all things alone supreme.
19For in him the complete being of God, by God's own choice, came to dwell.
20Through him God chose to reconcile the whole universe to himself,
making peace through the shedding of his blood upon the cross—
to reconcile all things, whether on earth or in heaven, through him alone.

21Formerly you were yourselves estranged from God, you were his enemies in heart and mind, and your deeds were evil. 22But now by Christ's death in his body of flesh and blood God has reconciled you to himself, so that he may present you before himself as dedicated men, without blemish and innocent in his sight. 23Only you must continue in your faith, firm on your foundations, never to be dislodged from the hope offered in the gospel which you heard. This is the gospel which has been proclaimed in the whole creation under heaven; and I, Paul, have become its minister.

Paul's Ministry to the Church

24It is now my happiness to suffer for you. This is my way of helping to complete, in my poor human flesh, the full tale of Christ's afflictions still to be endured, for the sake of his body which is the church. 25I became its servant by virtue of the task assigned to me by God for your benefit: to deliver his message in full; 26to announce the secret hidden for long ages and through many generations, but now disclosed to God's people, 27to whom it was his will to make it known?to make known how rich and glorious it is among all nations. The secret is this: Christ in [Or: among.] you, the hope of a glory to come.

28He it is whom we proclaim. We admonish everyone without distinction, we instruct everyone in all the ways of wisdom, so as to present each one of you as a mature member of Christ's body. 29To this end I am toiling strenuously with all the energy and power of Christ at work in me.   2.1For I want you to know how strenuous are my exertions for you and the Laodiceans and all who have never set eyes on me. 2I want them to continue in good heart and in the unity of love, and to come to the full wealth of conviction which understanding brings, and grasp God's secret. 3That secret is Christ himself; in him lie hidden all God's treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4I tell you this to save you from being talked [Or: What I mean is this: no one must talk you ...] into error by specious arguments. 5For though absent in body, I am with you in spirit, and rejoice to see your orderly array and the firm front which your faith in Christ presents.

Fullness of Life in Christ

6THEREFORE, SINCE JESUS was delivered to you as Christ and Lord, live your lives in union with him. 7Be rooted in him; be built in him; be consolidated in the faith you were taught; [Or: by your faith, as you were taught.] let your hearts overflow with thankfulness. 8Be on your guard; do not let your minds be captured by hollow and delusive speculations, based on traditions of man-made teaching and centred on the elemental spirits of the universe [Or: the elements of the natural world; Or: elementary ideas belonging to this world.] and not on Christ.

9For it is in Christ that the complete being of the Godhead dwells embodied, [Or: corporately.] 10and in him you have been brought to completion. Every power and authority in the universe is subject to him as Head. 11In him also you were circumcised, not in a physical sense, but by being divested of the lower nature; this is Christ's way of circumcision. 12For in baptism [Or: ... nature, in the very circumcision of Christ himself; for in baptism ...] you were buried with him, in baptism also you were raised to life with him through your faith in the active power of God who raised him from the dead. 13And although you were dead because of your sins and because you were morally uncircumcised, he has made you alive with Christ. 14For he has forgiven us all our sins; he has cancelled the bond which pledged us to the decrees of the law. It stood against us, but he has set it aside, nailing it to the cross. 15On that cross he discarded the cosmic powers and authorities like a garment; he made a public spectacle of them and led them [Or: he stripped himself of his physical body, and thereby boldly made a spectacle of the cosmic powers and authorities, and led them ... ; Or: he despoiled the cosmic powers and authorities, and boldly made a spectacle of them, leading them ...] as captives in his triumphal procession.

16ALLOW NO ONE therefore to take you to task about what you eat or drink, or over the observance of festival, new moon, or sabbath. 17These are no more than a shadow of what was to come; the solid reality is Christ's. 18You are not to be disqualified by the decision of people who go in for self-mortification and angel-worship, and try to enter into some vision of their own. Such people, bursting with the futile conceit of worldly minds, 19lose hold upon the Head; yet it is from the Head that the whole body, with all its joints and ligaments, receives its supplies, and thus knit together grows according to God's design.

The New Life in Christ

20Did you not die with Christ and pass beyond reach of the elemental spirits of the universe? [Or: the elements of the natural world; Or: elementary ideas belonging to this world.] Then why behave as though you were still living the life of the world? 21Why let people dictate to you: 'Do not handle this, do not taste that, do not touch the other'— 22all of them things that must perish as soon as they are used? That is to follow merely human injunctions and teaching. 23True, it has an air of wisdom, with its forced piety, its self-mortification, and its severity to the body; but it is of no use at all in combating sensuality.


  3.

1Were you not raised to life with Christ? Then aspire to the realm above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God, 2and let your thoughts dwell on that higher realm, not on this earthly life. 3I repeat, you died; and now your life lies hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, is manifested, then you too will be manifested with him in glory.

5Then put to death those parts of you which belong to the earth—fornication, indecency, lust, foul cravings, and the ruthless greed which is nothing less than idolatry. 6Because of these, God's dreadful judgement is impending; 7and in the life you once lived these are the ways you yourselves followed. 8But now you yourselves must lay aside all anger, passion, malice, cursing, filthy talk—have done with them! 9Stop lying to one another, now that you have discarded the old nature with its deeds 10and have put on the new nature, which is being constantly renewed in the image of its Creator and brought to know God. 11There is no question here of Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, freeman and slave; but Christ is all, and is in all.

12Then put on the garments that suit God's chosen people, his own, his beloved: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience. 13Be forbearing with one another, and forgiving, where any of you has cause for complaint: you must forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14To crown all, there must be love, to bind all together and complete the whole. 15Let Christ's peace be arbiter in your hearts: to this peace you were called as members of a single body. And be filled with gratitude. 16Let the message of Christ dwell among you in all its richness. Instruct and admonish each other with the utmost wisdom. Sing thankfully in your hearts to God, [Some witnesses read: the Lord.] with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. 17Whatever you are doing, whether you speak or act, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Social Duties of the New Life

18WIVES, BE SUBJECT to your husbands: that is your Christian duty. 19Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. 20Children, obey your parents in everything, for that is pleasing to God and is the Christian way. 21Fathers, do not exasperate your children, for fear they grow disheartened. 22Slaves, give entire obedience to your earthly masters, not merely with an outward show of service, to curry favour with men, but with single-mindedness, out of reverence for the Lord. 23Whatever you are doing, put your whole heart into it, as if you were doing it for the Lord and not for men, 24knowing that there is a Master who will give you your heritage as a reward for your service. Christ is the Master whose slaves you must be. 25Dishonesty will be requited, and he has no favourites.   4.1Masters, be just and fair to your slaves, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.

Exhortations

2Persevere in prayer, with mind awake and thankful heart; 3and include a prayer for us, that God may give us an opening for preaching, to tell the secret of Christ; that indeed is why I am now in prison. 4Pray that I may make the secret plain, as it is my duty to do.

5Behave wisely towards those outside your own number; use the present opportunity to the full. 6Let your conversation be always gracious, and never insipid; study how best to talk with each person you meet.

Final Greetings

7YOU WILL HEAR all about my affairs from Tychicus, our dear brother and trustworthy helper and fellow-servant in the Lord's work. 8I am sending him to you on purpose to let you know all about us and to put fresh heart into you. 9With him comes Onesimus, our trustworthy and dear brother, who is one of yourselves. They will tell you all the news here.

10Aristarchus, Christ's captive like myself, sends his greetings; so does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (you have had instructions about him; if he comes, make him welcome), and Jesus Justus. 11Of the Jewish Christians, these are the only ones who work with me for the kingdom of God, and they have been a great comfort to me. 12Greetings from Epaphras, servant of Christ, who is one of yourselves. He prays hard for you all the time, that you may stand fast, ripe in conviction [Or: stand fast, mature and complete ...] and wholly devoted to doing God's will. 13For I can vouch for him, that he works tirelessly for you and the people at Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14Greetings to you from our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and from Demas. 15Give our greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and Nympha and the congregation at her house. [Some witnesses read: Nymphas and the congregation at his house.] 16And when this letter is read among you, see that it is also read to the congregation at Laodicea, and that you in return read the one from Laodicea. 17This special word to Archippus: 'Attend to the duty entrusted to you in the Lord's service, and discharge it to the full.'

18This greeting is in my own hand—PAUL. Remember I am in prison. God's grace be with you.


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