Alive and New with Christ

About this letter

Colossae was a city in Roman Asia. ‘Asia’ was the south and west part of the country that we call Turkey now. At that time, the Roman people were very powerful and they ruled many countries. (Rome is the capital of the country that we call Italy now.)

We think that Paul himself never visited Colossae. Instead, a man called Epaphras went there to tell the good news about Jesus Christ to the people. Epaphras had heard about the good news from Paul.

After that, when Paul was in a prison somewhere, Epaphras visited him. Epaphras told Paul the news about the Christians who lived at Colossae. Then Paul wrote this letter to them while he was still in the prison.

Epaphras had told Paul that false teachers were teaching wrong things to the Christians at Colossae. The false teachers were saying that the Christians must be more like the Jews. ‘You must obey the same rules that God wanted the Jews to obey’, they were saying. Also, they were teaching other wrong ideas and rules.

So, Paul tells the Christians that they should not believe the false teachers. Only Jesus Christ can save us from our old nature and from all the wrong things that we do. By ‘old nature’, we mean ‘the kind of person that we are before we become a Christian’. Jesus made the world. And he wants to save the people who live in it. We only need to believe him. Then, in our spirits, we can die with Christ and we can become alive again with him. So, we can be new people, with a new nature. We must continue to believe Jesus. We must continue also to obey him. If we do that, we will be safe.

Chapter 1

1 We, Paul and our Christian friend, Timothy, are writing this letter. God has chosen me, Paul, to be a special worker and teacher on behalf of Christ Jesus. 2 We are writing to you, God’s people who live at Colossae. You are like brothers and sisters to us because you are united to Christ. And you are continuing to believe Christ. We pray that God, our Father, will continue to be very kind to you. We pray also that he will cause you to be without trouble inside yourselves.

Paul thanks God for the believers at Colossae

3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. 4 We thank God because people have told us good things about you. You are continuing to believe Christ Jesus and you are loving all God’s people. 5 You are doing these things because you are hoping certainly for good things from God. God is keeping safe the things that you are hoping for. He is storing them in heaven for you. You learned about those things before, when people first told you the true message, the good news.

Verse 5 In the Bible, to ‘hope’ means to wait for the good things that God has promised us. We will live with Christ always. We will be like him and we will be happy. We can be completely sure that these things will happen to us. They will happen if we continue to believe Christ and to obey him.

6 This good news has caused good results among you since the time when you heard it first. At that time, you understood clearly how very kind and good God really is. Also, people all over the world are hearing this good news. And it is causing more and more good results among them too. 7 You heard about this good news from Epaphras. Like us, he is Christ’s servant. And we love Epaphras very much. He continues to work well for Christ on our behalf. 8 Epaphras has told us how God’s Spirit has caused you to love other people.

Paul prays that they will know God more and more

9 It is because of these things that we have not stopped praying for you. We have prayed ever since the day that Epaphras told us news about you. We ask God that his Spirit will cause you to understand things properly. So you will know completely and clearly what God wants you to do. 10 So then you will be able to do those things that the Lord’s people should do. And you will always do the things that make the Lord happy. As a result, you will do many kinds of good things during your lives. And you will know God more and more. 11 God will make you strong inside yourselves because he is so very great and powerful. So, whatever things may happen, you can be patient, brave and happy. 12 And you can thank the Father, who has made it possible for you to join his people. With them, you will receive what he has prepared for his people in the light. 13 God, our Father, has saved us from the authority of bad, dark powers. He loves his Son. And he has caused us to be his Son’s people. And so now, his Son rules over us. 14 God’s Son has made us free, so that God will not punish us. Because of his Son, God has forgiven us for the wrong things that we have done.

Verse 13 God’s Son in this verse is Jesus Christ. That is why we have written ‘Son’ with a capital S.

Verse 14 Jesus made believers free when he died on the cross. God has forgiven them because Jesus died.

Who Christ is and what he has done for us

15 We cannot see God. But Jesus Christ is completely what God is. Even before God made anything, Jesus was already the Son of the Father. 16 God made everything that is on earth and in heaven by his Son. He made all the things that we can see. And he made those things that we cannot see. He made rulers; and he made leaders. He made them powerful; and he gave authority to them. God made them all by his Son. God made everything by his Son and for his Son. 17 Christ was there before anything else, and he holds all things together. 18 Think about Christ’s people as his body. Christ is the head of that body. It is called the church. He is the beginning. And he is the Son of the Father. So he is the leader of everyone who will win the fight against death. As a result, Christ is first and most important in all things.

19 It really gave God pleasure that all of himself is in Christ. His whole nature is in Christ. 20 Also, it really gave God pleasure to bring all things back to himself. He did that by the cross. There Christ bled and died. His death brought God and all things together, whether things on earth or things in heaven. They are not still enemies.

21 At one time, you were far away from God. You were his enemies because you thought bad things. You were his enemies because you did bad things. 22 But now everything has changed. This happened because Christ died a human death. So God has decided to bring you back to himself. He has decided to make you completely good and clean inside. And nobody will ever be able to say that you have done anything wrong. 23 But you must continue to believe Christ strongly. You must not let anything cause you to stop. You must continue to hope strongly for everything that you have learned from the good news. People have told this good news to everyone in the world. And God has made me, Paul, a servant who tells people this good news.

Paul’s work for Christ’s people

24 At this time, I am having trouble and pain on your behalf, but I am happy. Christ had trouble and pain on behalf of his own people. And, while I live in my body, I am having trouble and pain also. I am helping to finish the full quantity of troubles and pain that Christ must still have. He must still have troubles and pain because of his body, which is his people.

Verse 24 Christ gives his Spirit to those who are his people. He lives in his people because his Spirit is in them. They are united to him. They are like his body on earth (verse 18). The Bible says that Christians must have troubles and pain. (See, for example, Acts 14:22 and 1 Thessalonians 3:3-4.) So, when his people have troubles and pain, Christ continues to have troubles and pain too. Christians, like Paul, sometimes have troubles and pain on behalf of other Christians.

Christ’s death saves us completely, if we believe him. Paul does not mean that we need anything else to save us. Christ had trouble and pain on our behalf. We have troubles and pain because we are his people.

25 God has made me a servant, who helps his people. He has chosen me to tell you his whole message. 26 This message is the secret that God hid from everyone before. He hid it from all the people who lived in past times. But now he is showing this secret to his people. 27 God wanted his people to know how very great this secret is. It is very, very good and it will help people from all countries very, very much. This secret is Christ in you. And because he is in you, you hope certainly for good things. You are sure that you will live with God always. You will be with him in the beautiful place where he lives.

28 That is why we tell everyone about Christ. We teach them everything that we know. We tell them what God wants them to do. We tell them what he does not want. Our purpose, for every person who is united to Christ, is this. We want every person to become completely what he or she should be. We want to bring each person to God like that. 29 That is why I work so very much. Christ makes me very strong for this difficult work. He works powerfully in me to make me strong.

Chapter 2

1 I want you to know how very much I am working for you and for the people at Laodicea. I am also working for all those people who have never met me. 2 I am working like this because I want all of you to become strong inside yourselves for Christ. I want you to be united because you love Christ and each other. So then you will really be rich, because you will really understand God’s secret. You will be completely sure about it. You will know that secret, which is Christ. 3 Christ knows and understands everything. Only Christ can cause us to understand things properly. He can cause us to understand the really valuable things that we need to know.

4 I am telling you these things so that you will not listen to false teachers. Those teachers will try to teach you false things that may seem good. 5 My body is not there with you, but my spirit is with you. And I am happy about you. You are doing the things that Christ’s people should do. Also, I am happy that you are continuing to believe Christ so strongly.

What Christ’s people, who are united to Christ, should do

6 You have agreed that Christ Jesus should be your Lord. And you have become united to him. So, you must continue to do the things that Christ’s people ought to do. 7 You must be like trees that have their roots deep in Christ. Continue to obey Christ, so that you become stronger and stronger as Christians. You must believe more and more strongly the things that we taught you. And you should always thank God very much for everything.

Verse 7 Roots are the parts of a plant that grow under the ground. They help to hold the plant up. They also supply water and other good things from under the ground that help the plant to grow well. When Christians are really united to Christ, he will supply everything for them. He will supply everything that they need. So, like trees that have their roots deep under good ground, they will become stronger and stronger.

8 Some people may try to teach you false ideas. Be careful that you do not believe them. Those ideas may seem clever, but they will take you away from God. Those ideas are the result of things that people have taught for many years. But those ideas belong to this world. They do not come from Christ. 9 The whole of God himself lives in Christ, in his human body. 10 And because you are united to Christ, God has filled you. He has given you everything that you need in Christ. And Christ rules over all spirits that have authority.

11 Also, because you are united to Christ, God has circumcised you. No human person used his hands to circumcise you. But God has circumcised you, in the way that Christ has made possible. He has made you free from the power of your old nature (the kind of people that you were before you became Christians). He has taken away your old nature, which could never make God happy. 12 By baptism, God has buried you with Christ. And then he has raised you with Christ, so that you have become alive again with him. God raised you because you believe him. You believe that he is very powerful. And you believe that he raised Christ. He made him alive again after he had died.

Verse 11 To ‘circumcise’ means to cut off the skin that covers the end of a boy’s or a man’s sex part. God had told Abraham that he must do this. (See Genesis 17:9-14.) They circumcised men and boys like this to show that Israel’s people were God’s people. It was like a picture, to show that they were separate from bad things. But Paul says that Christians have something better than a mark on their bodies. They are God’s people because Christ died for them (on their behalf). God has circumcised them in their spirits, not in their bodies. He has ‘cut off’ their old nature. Their spirits are God’s. Because of Christ, we can really be separate from everything that is bad.

Verse 12 Christian baptism is when they put a believer into water. (Or sometimes they put water on a believer.) Baptism by water is very important. It is like a picture of what God does in our spirits. Baptism means ‘to put a person or a thing completely into something else (for example, into water)’. When God ‘baptises’ us into Christ, he ‘puts us into’ Christ. He makes us completely united with Christ in our spirits. So, in our spirits, we die with Christ and then we rise again, to live with him. So we have a new nature, a new life, because of Christ. (See also Romans 6:1-4.)

13 At one time, you were like dead people because of all the wrong things that you did. Nobody had circumcised you in your bodies. And God had not circumcised you in your spirits. But now God has caused you to become alive with Christ. God has forgiven us for all the wrong things that we have done. 14 He has chosen to forget that we have not obeyed all his rules. He has taken away the list of all the wrong things that we have done. He should have punished us because of that list. But instead, it is like he fixed that list to Christ’s cross. So, he destroyed that list. 15 On the cross, Christ won the fight against all the bad spirits that have authority. He beat them completely. He took all their weapons away from them. He showed everyone that he is the ruler over all these other powerful spirits.

Christ’s people should not obey men’s ideas

16 So do not let anybody else say what is right for you to eat or to drink. Do not let anybody make rules about special days, new moons or sabbaths (the Jews’ seventh day of the week). 17 Rules like that are only like shadows. In past times, they showed people about the good things that would happen. But those good things really have happened now because of Christ.

18 Some people may say that God has shown them special things. They may tell you that you should do certain things to your bodies to become better people. They may tell you that you should worship angels. But you must not believe those false things. If you listen to them, you may lose something really important. People like that may think that they know a lot of things. But they are only thinking men’s ideas. They do not understand how God thinks. 19 False teachers like that do not agree to be united to Christ. They do not obey Christ, who is the head of his body. His people are like a body. Christ holds the whole body together. Through the parts that join the body together, Christ supplies the body. He supplies what the body needs. And so, the body grows, because God causes it to grow.

20 You have died with Christ. So you do not have to obey the rules that belong to this world. You do not belong to this world now. So you should not still obey its rules! You do not need to obey rules like this: 21 ‘Do not touch this thing! Do not taste that food! Keep away from that thing!’ 22 Rules like that are only about things that will finish. Those things are like things that people use. But they are destroying those things while they are using them. Rules like that are only rules that people teach. 23 Rules like that may seem to be clever people’s rules. They try to cause people to worship in certain ways. They cause people to hurt themselves, so that they can rule their bodies. So those people seem to be obeying God. But really, they are not obeying him. Those rules cannot really help people to rule what their bodies want. Those rules are not really worth anything. By those rules people can still do all the bad things that they want to do.

Chapter 3

The old life and the new life

1 God has raised you from death, so that you are alive with Christ. So, you should continue to look up. You should want more and more the things that are in heaven, with Christ. Christ is sitting next to God, at his right side. 2 Continue to think about things that are above. Do not think about things that are on the earth. 3 Think like that, because you have died. And now you are alive with Christ, who is united to God. God is keeping your life safe with Christ. 4 It is Christ who causes us to be alive. And when Christ shows himself clearly to everyone, then everyone will see you also with him. You will be like him and you will shine with him.

5 So you must refuse to do bad things that belong to this earth. So then those things will stop being part of your life. You must not have sex with someone who is not your husband or your wife. You must not think bad, dirty thoughts. You must not want to have sex with other people. You must not want to do bad things. You must not want to have more and more things for yourselves. People who want things strongly like that are making those things more important than God. So they are really worshipping those things. 6 God will be very angry with people who do those bad things. And he will punish those people.

7 At one time, you were doing these kinds of bad things. These things were ruling your lives then. 8 But now you must refuse to do these kinds of things. You must not become angry easily. You must not continue to be angry with people. You must not want to do bad things to people. You must not say bad things that are not true about people. You must not speak bad and dirty words. 9 Stop saying things that are not true to each other. You should be like someone who has taken off old clothes. You have taken off the old nature. And, with that old nature, you have taken off all the bad things that you did before. That is why you should stop doing those things.

10 Instead, you have put on the new nature, which God has made. And God is continuing to make you more and more like him. So then you will know him more and more completely. 11 When people have this new nature, they are not different from each other. Jews are not different from people who are not Jews. It does not matter whether someone has circumcised you or not. It does not matter which country you come from. It does not matter whether you are a slave or a free person. But Christ is what matters. He is everything, and he is in everything.

12 God has chosen you to be his own special people. He loves you very much. So, you should choose to do good things, as God’s people should do. You should be good and kind to other people. You should want to help them. You should not think that you are better or more important than other people. But you should be patient with them. 13 Do not get angry with each other, but be patient. You may not be happy about something that someone else has done. But you should forgive that person. Forgive them as the Lord forgave you. 14 And you should love each other. That is the most important thing that you should do. Love is like clothes that go over all your other clothes. Love holds everything and everybody together. Love makes everything completely as it should be.

15 Let Christ rule what you think. Let him rule what you feel. If you do that, you will have no trouble inside yourselves or with other Christians. God wants you to be united like this, because all of you belong to one body really. And always thank God for everything. 16 Let Christ’s message live in you. Let it work in you. It will do many good things in you. It will help you to teach each other. It will help you to understand things correctly. God’s Spirit will cause you to sing different kinds of songs to each other, while you worship God. You will sing like this to thank him for everything that he has done. 17 Everything that you do should make the Lord Jesus happy. Everything that you say should make him happy. And whatever things you do, you should thank God the Father by the Lord Jesus’ name.

Do what is right, at home and at work

18 Wives, obey your husbands. That is the right thing to do, because you are the Lord’s.

19 Husbands, love your wives and be kind to them.

20 Children, you must obey your parents about everything. That is how you can make the Lord happy.

21 Fathers, do not make your children angry with you. They might think that they can never do anything to make you happy with them.

22 Slaves, always obey your human masters in everything. Do not work well only when they can see you. So then they will be happy with you. Instead, always do your work well, because you really love the Lord. So you want to make him happy. 23 Whatever things you do, do them for the Lord. Do them as well as you can for him. Do not work only for people. 24 So then the Lord will give to you all the good things that he has promised you. You know that. You are the Lord Christ’s servants. 25 But the Lord will punish anyone who does wrong things. That is what ought to happen to people like that. God uses the same rules to decide what should happen to each person. It does not matter who that person is.

Chapter 4

1 Masters, give your servants what is right and fair. Remember that you have a Master also, in heaven.

Paul tells the believers that they should pray

2 Continue to pray. Do not let anything cause you to stop praying. Be like people who watch carefully. They watch carefully to see what is happening. And thank God when you pray. 3 Pray for us, too. Ask God to make it possible for us to tell people his message. We want to tell people the secret things about Christ that God has caused us to know. I am in a prison because I told people those things. 4 I want to tell people this message clearly, as I ought to do. Pray that I will be able to do that.

5 Sometimes you are with people who do not believe Christ. Be careful when you are with those people. Be careful about what you say. Be careful about what you do. Use your time with them as well as you can. Do everything that you can to help them to believe Christ. 6 Always speak words that are kind and proper. Speak words that will be good for those who hear you. When someone asks you a question, you should know what to say. You should know how you ought to answer each person.

Paul finishes his letter

7 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a Christian brother that we love. He continues to work well for the Lord. Like me, he is the Lord’s servant. 8 I am sending him to you for this purpose. He will tell you all the news about us. And he will help you to be braver and stronger for Christ. 9 Onesimus, who belongs to your group, is travelling with him. Onesimus is another Christian brother that we love. He continues to believe and to obey Christ. These men will tell you everything that is happening here.

10 Aristarchus, who is with me in the prison, says ‘hello’ to you. Mark also says ‘hello’ to you. He is Barnabas’s cousin. Mark may come to visit you. You should say ‘welcome’ to him if he comes. I have told you this already. I have told you that you should be kind to him. 11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also says ‘hello’ to you. These three men are the only Jews who are working with me. We work so that more people will believe Christ. So then they will belong to God’s people, the people that he rules over. These men have helped me very much. And they have caused me to feel better.

12 Epaphras says ‘hello’ to you. He also belongs to your group, and he is Christ Jesus’ servant. He is always praying strongly for you. He prays like someone who fights on behalf of you. He prays that you will continue to obey God. So you will always do everything that God wants. He asks God to make you completely as God wants you to be. 13 I tell you this about Epaphras, which is true. He is working very much for you, and for the people at Laodicea and at Hierapolis.

14 Our good friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas say ‘hello’ to you. 15 Say ‘hello’ for me to all the believers at Laodicea. Also say ‘hello’ for me to Nympha and to the Christians who meet in her house.

16 After someone has read this letter to all of you, send it to the church at Laodicea. Tell them that they must read it aloud too. And you must also read the letter that the Christians at Laodicea will send to you. 17 Say to Archippus, ‘Remember the work that the Lord gave you to do. You must be careful to finish it completely.’

18 I, Paul, am writing these words here with my own hand. Remember that I am in a prison. I pray that God will continue to be very kind to you.

Word List

angel
spirit being. Good angels come from God’s home above the earth. They are God’s servants and they bring messages from God to people.
baptism
See the note on chapter 2, verse 12.
being
a person or animal that is alive.
believer
a person who knows and accepts Christ.
brother
another man who believes in Christ.
church
a group of Christians who meet together. A church is not only the building that they meet in.
circumcise
to cut off the skin that covers the end of a man’s or a boy’s sex part. God told Israel’s people that they should do this. It was to show that they were his people. It was like a picture, to show that God’s people had to be completely good and clean. Now, because of Christ, God can circumcise us in our spirits, to make us really good and clean.
cross
a piece of wood that someone has fastened across another piece. People put Jesus on a cross to kill him.
forgive
when God (or another person) chooses to forget the wrong things that we have done.
heaven
the place above the earth where God and Jesus Christ live.
Jew
a person who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.
Lord
master; another name for God; it means that he is greater than everyone else.
punish
to hurt someone, or to cause trouble for them, because they have done bad things.
Roman
a person or thing from Rome. Rome was a powerful city; it had a strong army.
roots
the parts of a plant that grow under the ground.
spirit
a being that is always alive, even without a body. A person’s spirit is the part of them that will always be alive. It will be alive even after their body is dead. There are good spirits, like God’s Spirit and his angels. And there are bad spirits, like Satan (God’s enemy) and his angels.
weapon
something to fight people with.
worship
to love and thank someone (God) more than anyone else.

Book List

N. T. Wright ~ Tyndale NT Commentaries ~ Colossians & Philemon ~ IVP

P. T. O’Brien ~ Word Biblical Commentary ~ Colossians, Philemon

A. Marshall ~ The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament

Various Bible versions

Info

© Wycliffe Associates (UK), 1997-2008

This version published November 2008

The translated Bible text has been through Advanced Checking.