Commentary on Colossians, 3:8-10 (Christ-Likeness)

Colossians 3:8-10

“8 But now you also, put them all away: anger, rage, malice, slander, shameful speaking out of your mouth.”


I want to emphasize the word “now.” As believers in Christ, we’re to leave the old life behind, and to pursue our new life in Christ with all of our hearts, and we’re to do that now! There is to be no delay. We’ve all been taught that the Christian life is a growing process, and indeed it is, but that fact should never be used as an excuse for disobedience. The the Word of God simply doesn’t allow for that. Regardless of how long it takes for us to mature in Christ, we’re to seek to be like Christ with a passion. We’re to seek to serve Christ with everything within us. We’re to be single-minded and single-hearted. As James said, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (Ja 1:8).

“put them all away”

Throw them off; lay them aside; in other words, stop doing them.

“anger”  (Gr. orge – 3709)

Settled attitude; deep, smoldering, continuous feelings of anger.

“rage”  (Gr. thumos – 2372)

Sudden, passionate outbursts; outbursts of anger; explosive anger; describes a violent temper.

“malice”  (Gr. kakia – 2549)

ILL-will; mean-spirited; vicious attitude or disposition, with a desire to harm. 

“slander”  (Gr. blasphemia – 988)


Slander is the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame, belittle or damage another’s reputation and cause them to fall into disrepute or to receive a bad reputation. To try to tear down another individual. Wounding someone’s reputation by evil reports, evil speaking. Blasphemia is translated “blasphemy” when it is against God and slander when against men, although slander against men is blasphemy against God Who created men (Js 3:9).”

“shameful speaking”  (Gr. aischrologia – 148)

(Only here in the New Testament)

This is a difficult word to translate. Scholars are divided on the actual meaning. Some translate it as filthy or dirty or foul or obscene language; others translate it as abusive speech. 

I think “shameful speaking” is a fitting translation, as it encompasses all types of language that is unbecoming of a Christian.

“out of your mouth

Everything that proceeds out of our mouths should be befitting of someone who represents Christ. Everything we say should be honorable and representative of the type of language that Jesus Himself would use. Our tongues are to be used to encourage and edify others, not for tearing down. Furthermore, our language should be accompanied with grace and kindness and gentleness. 

I think Christians who walk and speak and respond with a calm and quiet peace, have an especially close relationship with the Lord. Nothing seems to rattle them. They walk with a peaceful assurance that they’re in the Lord’s care, no matter what happens. Those who walk in such a manner, exhibit a genuine faith, a strong trust in the Lord. Furthermore, those who speak with grace and kindness, exhibit a sincere love for others. Their one desire is to show the love of Christ to everyone they meet, with the purpose of making a difference in their lives.

“9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its deeds,” 

Those who belong to the truth, are to speak the truth. It’s uncharacteristic for someone who is of the truth, to be speaking things that are false. That’s not who we are as Christians. Jesus is “the truth,” and can only speak the truth. We are to do no less than the One we are to imitate (1 Cor 11:1; 3 Jn 1:11). 

“seeing that you have put off the old self with its deeds,” 

Lying is something that unbelievers do, because they belong to the “father of lies” (Jn 8:44). Like begets like. That was us in our unregenerate state. But when we came to Christ, we “put off the old self,” that is, we repented of our sins and self-will, and surrendered to the Lordship of Christ. We now belong to Him. We are now children of God, and like begets like. Thus we’re to be like God in being honest and truthful and full of integrity in all that we say and do. This applies in all of our dealings with people, both among fellow-believers, and among unbelievers.

As representatives of Christ, people should look upon us as being absolutely trustworthy and reliable. We should never give anyone a reason for doubting what we say. Many people may not like Christians, but they should, nevertheless, be able to regard us as the most honest people they know. They may be able to slam us for our faith in Christ, but they should never be able to find fault with our character. 

“10 and have put on the new self, who is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”

“and have put on the new self”

Again, when we came to faith in Christ, we humbled ourselves before God, and surrendered our will to His will. We completely gave our lives to Christ. At that point we realized that we were making a life-changing decision, that we were turning away from our old life, to live a new life as a follower of Christ. That’s what it means to “put off the old self, and to put on the new.”

“who is being renewed in the knowledge….”

As we grow spiritually, as we mature in Christ, we are being “renewed.” We are becoming more and more like Christ. This renewing is according to “knowledge,” which refers to both the knowledge of God’s Word, and to knowing God on a very personal level. As we learn the Word of God, the Holy Spirit uses His Word to transform our character and our lives. As we grow in our relationship with Christ, as we get closer and closer to Him, we become more and more like Him. The better we know Him, the more we want to be like Him. The more time we spend with Him, the more we become like Him. It’s a learning and growing process that continues throughout our lives.

This “putting off” and “putting on” of the old self (literally old man) speaks of regeneration. Our old self is our unregenerate state, and our new self is our regenerate state. This is the new birth, being born-again. This occurs the moment we place our faith in Christ the Lord as our Savior. As already discussed, there is a turning away from the old life to follow a new life that is in Christ. This conscious decision of humility and faith results in regeneration, which is a miracle the Holy Spirit performs within us. We become new creations in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). We obtain a new nature. Thus this turning away from the old life to embrace the new, is a picture of this miracle that occurs within us.

In conclusion, I believe what Paul is saying, is that we’re to be living according to who we are in Christ. We’re no longer to live according to the sinfulness of our old nature, but according to the holiness of our new nature. That is our position in Christ, and we’re to continuously be growing in that position.

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