Colossians 3

A New Way of Life in Christ

Burial Practices

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).

Paul’s reference to death here is not literal but metaphorical. For those who were familiar with 1st-century burial practices in Jerusalem, however, this allusion may have brought to mind the things associated with burial, like this limestone ossuary. Although this kind of interment was not used across the Roman Empire, it was the standard form of burial in the Jerusalem area when Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians.

Divine Punishment

On account of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience (Colossians 3:6).

An immediate example of God’s judgment in Paul’s day would be the impending judgment upon Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans. This event was foretold by Jesus (Luke 19:44; 21:21-24) and possibly alluded to by Paul himself (Acts 13:40-41). This photo shows massive limestone blocks from the temple compound in Jerusalem that were thrown down onto the street below when the Temple was destroyed in AD 70.

"Put On"

Put on the new self, which is being renewed (Colossians 3:10).

To “put on” (Gk. enduō) is used literally to describe putting on clothing; here Paul uses it metaphorically to describe putting on a new manner of life, one associated with following Christ. The woman depicted in this statue has wrapped herself in a long garment, a fitting picture of the believer who is to be clothed with the cleansed and renewed life that comes through Jesus. This statue was photographed at the National Museum of Rome at the Diocletian Baths.

The Roman "Heart"

Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12).

The word “heart” used here is an English idiom for the Greek idiom “bowels” (Gk. splanchnon), a reference to the entrails or viscera. It was used figuratively by the Greeks to refer to the seat of emotions, particularly love, mercy, and sympathy. This clay model shows the stomach and intestines, revealing an awareness of the internal organs. It was made between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC and is on display in the British Museum.


Above all these things, put on love, which is the perfect unifying bond (Colossians 3:14).

The word translated as “unifying bond” (Gk. sundesmos) is sometimes used in contexts to refer to fasteners used to hold together architectural components of a building, such as the fastener pictured here. This artifact was made around 400 BC and found at Persepolis.


Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts (Colossians 3:15).

In ancient Roman mythology, Concordia was the goddess of peace and harmony, both in marriage and in society. In this relief she appears behind the couple shaking hands, illustrating the desire for a peaceable marriage. This sarcophagus relief carving from Latina Street in Rome was photographed at the National Museum of Rome.

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