The Meaning of Colossians 3:16 Explained

Colossians 3:16

KJV: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

YLT: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing each other, in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, in grace singing in your hearts to the Lord;

Darby: Let the word of the Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another, in psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to God.

ASV: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and'spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God.

What does Colossians 3:16 Mean?

Study Notes

grace
Grace (imparted). vs. Colossians 4:6 ; Romans 6:1 ; 2 Peter 3:18 .

Verse Meaning

The third imperative is "let dwell." The "word of Christ," used only here in the New Testament, is Christ"s teachings, not only during His earthly ministry but also in all of Scripture. His Word should permeate our whole being so that we make all decisions and plans in its light.
". . . as the rabbis later pointed out, he who dwells in a house is the master of the house, not just a passing guest ..." [1]
"Thus we are to submit to the demands of the Christian message and let it become so deeply implanted within us as to control all our thinking." [2]
"Many saved people cannot honestly say that God"s Word dwells in their hearts richly because they do not take time to read, study, and memorize it." [3]
Teaching is the imparting of truth, and admonition is warning against error. We should perform these activities joyfully and with song. "Psalm" probably refers to the inspired Old Testament psalms. The word "psalms" implies that the believers sang them with musical accompaniment. Hymns are songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. Spiritual songs probably refer to expressions of Christian experience set to music. Thankfulness to God is to mark our singing too (cf. Colossians 3:15). [4]
"Whether with instrument or with voice or with both it is all for naught if the adoration is not in the heart." [5]
"One of the first descriptions of a Church service which we possess is that of Pliny, the Roman governor of Bithynia, who sent a report of the activities of the Christians to Trajan the Roman Emperor. In that report he said, "They meet at dawn to sing a hymn to Christ as God." The gratitude of the Church has always gone up to God in Christian praise and Christian song." [6]
"It has often been noticed that the Colossian passage is parallel with Ephesians 5:18-20. In the latter passage the hymns and songs are the outgrowth of the filling of the Spirit, while in Colossians they are the result of the deep assimilation of the Word of God. In other words, the Word-filled Christian is a Spirit-filled Christian, and the examination of the two passages would save us from a great deal of error on this subject. Undisciplined emphasis on the Holy Spirit is accompanied too frequently by shallow grounding in the Word of God." [7]

Context Summary

Colossians 3:12-17 - Love, Peace, And Praise
The articles of the Christian's dress are enumerated here, and we need to refer to this list continually in order to be sure that none of them is missing from our spiritual wardrobe. We must not always live in the negative of avoiding wrong, the positive has a clear claim on us; and in each circumstance of trial or temptation we must advance to meet it, arrayed in Christ. As the Lord acted, so must we. We must partake of the family likeness. When a Christian friend manifests over the breakfast-table some ugly feature of the old life, we may fairly urge him to return to his room and complete his dressing. Love is the girdle of the Christian attire.
Let the peace of Christ rule within. Let the word of Christ dwell in the innermost chambers of the soul. Let there be mutual love and wholesome glee, the song in the life, and the grace in the heart. Whatever is wrong will shiver to pieces like a glass when the name of Jesus is spoken over it. The thought of Him is the touchstone of trial as well as the talisman of victory. A thankful heart makes a victorious and attractive character. [source]

Chapter Summary: Colossians 3

1  He shows where we should seek Christ
5  He exhorts to holiness;
10  to put off the old self, and put on Christ;
12  exhorting to charity, humility,
18  and other duties

Greek Commentary for Colossians 3:16

The word of Christ [ο λογος του Χριστου]
This precise phrase only here, though “the word of the Lord” in 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:1. Elsewhere “the word of God.” Paul is exalting Christ in this Epistle. Χριστου — Christou can be either the subjective genitive (the word delivered by Christ) or the objective genitive (the word about Christ). See note on 1 John 2:14. [source]
Dwell [ενοικειτω]
Present active imperative of ενοικεω — enoikeō to make one‘s home, to be at home. In you (εν υμιν — en humin). Not “among you.” Richly Old adverb from πλουσιος — plousios (rich). See note on 1 Timothy 6:17. The following words explain πλουσιως — plousiōs In all wisdom (εν πασηι σοπιαι — en pasēi sophiāi). It is not clear whether this phrase goes with πλουσιως — plousiōs (richly) or with the participles following (διδασκοντες και νουτετουντες — didaskontes kai nouthetountes see note on Colossians 1:28). Either punctuation makes good sense. The older Greek MSS. had no punctuation. There is an anacoluthon here. The participles may be used as imperatives as in Romans 12:11., Romans 12:16. With psalms The same song can have all three words applied to it. Singing with grace (εν χαριτι αιδοντες — en chariti āidontes). In God‘s grace (2 Corinthians 1:12). The phrase can be taken with the preceding words. The verb αιδω — āidō is an old one (Ephesians 5:19) for lyrical emotion in a devout soul. In your hearts Without this there is no real worship “to God” How can a Jew or Unitarian in the choir lead in the worship of Christ as Saviour? Whether with instrument or with voice or with both it is all for naught if the adoration is not in the heart. [source]
In you [εν υμιν]
Not “among you.” [source]
Richly [πλουσιως]
Old adverb from πλουσιος — plousios (rich). See note on 1 Timothy 6:17. The following words explain πλουσιως — plousiōs In all wisdom (εν πασηι σοπιαι — en pasēi sophiāi). It is not clear whether this phrase goes with πλουσιως — plousiōs (richly) or with the participles following (διδασκοντες και νουτετουντες — didaskontes kai nouthetountes see note on Colossians 1:28). Either punctuation makes good sense. The older Greek MSS. had no punctuation. There is an anacoluthon here. The participles may be used as imperatives as in Romans 12:11., Romans 12:16. With psalms The same song can have all three words applied to it. Singing with grace (εν χαριτι αιδοντες — en chariti āidontes). In God‘s grace (2 Corinthians 1:12). The phrase can be taken with the preceding words. The verb αιδω — āidō is an old one (Ephesians 5:19) for lyrical emotion in a devout soul. In your hearts Without this there is no real worship “to God” How can a Jew or Unitarian in the choir lead in the worship of Christ as Saviour? Whether with instrument or with voice or with both it is all for naught if the adoration is not in the heart. [source]
In all wisdom [εν πασηι σοπιαι]
It is not clear whether this phrase goes with πλουσιως — plousiōs (richly) or with the participles following Either punctuation makes good sense. The older Greek MSS. had no punctuation. There is an anacoluthon here. The participles may be used as imperatives as in Romans 12:11., Romans 12:16. [source]
With psalms [πσαλμοις]
The same song can have all three words applied to it. Singing with grace (εν χαριτι αιδοντες — en chariti āidontes). In God‘s grace (2 Corinthians 1:12). The phrase can be taken with the preceding words. The verb αιδω — āidō is an old one (Ephesians 5:19) for lyrical emotion in a devout soul. In your hearts Without this there is no real worship “to God” How can a Jew or Unitarian in the choir lead in the worship of Christ as Saviour? Whether with instrument or with voice or with both it is all for naught if the adoration is not in the heart. [source]
hymns [υμνοις]
The same song can have all three words applied to it. Singing with grace (εν χαριτι αιδοντες — en chariti āidontes). In God‘s grace (2 Corinthians 1:12). The phrase can be taken with the preceding words. The verb αιδω — āidō is an old one (Ephesians 5:19) for lyrical emotion in a devout soul. In your hearts Without this there is no real worship “to God” How can a Jew or Unitarian in the choir lead in the worship of Christ as Saviour? Whether with instrument or with voice or with both it is all for naught if the adoration is not in the heart. [source]
spiritual songs [ωιδαις πνευματικαις]
The same song can have all three words applied to it. Singing with grace (εν χαριτι αιδοντες — en chariti āidontes). In God‘s grace (2 Corinthians 1:12). The phrase can be taken with the preceding words. The verb αιδω — āidō is an old one (Ephesians 5:19) for lyrical emotion in a devout soul. In your hearts Without this there is no real worship “to God” How can a Jew or Unitarian in the choir lead in the worship of Christ as Saviour? Whether with instrument or with voice or with both it is all for naught if the adoration is not in the heart. [source]
Singing with grace [εν χαριτι αιδοντες]
In God‘s grace (2 Corinthians 1:12). The phrase can be taken with the preceding words. The verb αιδω — āidō is an old one (Ephesians 5:19) for lyrical emotion in a devout soul. [source]
In your hearts [εν ταις καρδιαις υμων]
Without this there is no real worship “to God” How can a Jew or Unitarian in the choir lead in the worship of Christ as Saviour? Whether with instrument or with voice or with both it is all for naught if the adoration is not in the heart. [source]
The word of Christ []
The only occurrence of the phrase. The word spoken by Christ. [source]
Richly []
See on Romans 2:4, and compare Colossians 1:27. [source]
In all wisdom []
Some connect with the preceding words, others with the following - in all wisdom, teaching, etc. The latter seems preferable, especially in view of Colossians 1:28, where the phrase occurs teaching and admonishing in all wisdom; because the adverb richly forms an emphatic qualification of dwell in, and so appropriately terminates the clause; and because the whole passage is thus more symmetrical. “Dwell in has its single adverb richly, and is supported and expanded by two coordinate participial clauses, each of which has its spiritual manner or element of action (in all wisdom, in grace ) more exactly defined” (Ellicott). [source]
Admonishing []
See on Colossians 1:28. The participles teaching and admonishing are used as imperatives, as Romans 12:9-13, Romans 12:16-19; Ephesians 4:2, Ephesians 4:3; Hebrews 13:5; 1 Peter 3:1, 1 Peter 3:7, 1 Peter 3:9, 1 Peter 3:16. [source]
One another [ἑαυτούς]
Yourselves. See on Colossians 3:13. [source]
Psalms []
See the parallel passage, Ephesians 5:19. A psalm was originally a song accompanied by a stringed instrument. See on 1 Corinthians 14:15. The idea of accompaniment passed away in usage, and the psalm, in New-Testament phraseology, is an Old-Testament psalm, or a composition having that character. A hymn is a song of praise, and a song ( ᾠδή ode) is the general term for a song of any kind. Hymns would probably be distinctively Christian. It is supposed by some that Paul embodies fragments of hymns in his epistles, as 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Ephesians 5:14; 1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Timothy 2:11-14. James 1:17, and Revelation 1:5, Revelation 1:6; Revelation 15:3, are also supposed to be of this character. In both instances of his use of ᾠδή songPaul adds the term spiritual. The term may, as Trench suggests, denote sacred poems which are neither psalms nor hymns, as Herbert's “Temple,” or Keble's “Christian Year.” This is the more likely, as the use of these different compositions is not restricted to singing nor to public worship. They are to be used in mutual christian teaching and admonition. [source]
With grace [ἐν τῇ χάριτι]
Lit., the grace. The article limits the meaning to the grace of God. With grace begins the second participial clause. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Colossians 3:16

Romans 1:21 Heart [καρδία]
The heart is, first, the physical organ, the center of the circulation of the blood. Hence, the seat and center of physical life. In the former sense it does not occur in the New Testament. As denoting the vigor and sense of physical life, see Acts 14:17; James 5:5; Luke 21:34. It is used fifty-two times by Paul. Never used like ψυχή , soul, to denote the individual subject of personal life, so that it can be exchanged with the personal pronoun (Acts 2:43; Acts 3:23; Romans 13:1); nor like πνεῦμα spiritto denote the divinely-given principle of life. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
It is the central seat and organ of the personal life ( ψυχή ) of man regarded in and by himself. Hence it is commonly accompanied with the possessive pronouns, my, his, thy, etc. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
Like our heart it denotes the seat of feeling as contrasted with intelligence. 2 Corinthians 2:4; Romans 9:2; Romans 10:1; 2 Corinthians 6:11; Philemon 1:7. But it is not limited to this. It is also the seat of mental action, feeling, thinking, willing. It is used - -DIVIDER-
1. Of intelligence, Romans 1:21; 2 Corinthians 3:15; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Ephesians 1:18. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
2. Of moral choice, 1 Corinthians 7:37; 2 Corinthians 9:7. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
3. As giving impulse and character to action, Romans 6:17; Ephesians 6:5; Colossians 3:22; 1 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:22. The work of the law is written on the heart, Romans 2:15. The Corinthian Church is inscribed as Christ's epistle on hearts of flesh, 2 Corinthians 3:2-3. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
4. Specially, it is the seat of the divine Spirit, Galatians 4:6; Romans 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:22. It is the sphere of His various operations, directing, comforting, establishing, etc., Philemon 4:7; Colossians 3:15; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:5. It is the seat of faith, and the organ of spiritual praise, Romans 10:9; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
It is equivalent to the inner man, Ephesians 3:16, Ephesians 3:17. Its characteristic is being hidden, Romans 2:28, Romans 2:29; Romans 8:27; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 14:25. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
It is contrasted with the face, 1 Thessalonians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 5:12; and with the mouth, Romans 10:8. -DIVIDER-
-DIVIDER-
[source]

1 Corinthians 14:15 I will sing [ψαλῶ]
See on James 5:13. The verb, ᾄδω is also used for sing, Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Revelation 5:9; Revelation 14:3; Revelation 15:3. In the last two passages it is combined with playing on harps. In Ephesians 5:19we have both verbs. The noun ψαλμός psalm(Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 14:26), which is etymologically akin to this verb, is used in the New Testament of a religious song in general, having the character of an Old Testament psalm; though in Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26, ὑμνέω , whence our hymn, is used of singing an Old Testament psalm. Here applied to such songs improvised under the spiritual ecstasy (1 Corinthians 14:26). Some think that the verb has here its original signification of singing with an instrument. This is its dominant sense in the Septuagint, and both Basil and Gregory of Nyssa define a psalm as implying instrumental accompaniment; and Clement of Alexandria, while forbidding the use of the flute in the agapae, permitted the harp. But neither Basil nor Ambrose nor Chrysostom, in their panegyrics upon music, mention instrumental music, and Basil expressly condemns it. Bingham dismisses the matter summarily, and sites Justin Martyr as saying expressly that instrumental music was not used in the Christian Church. The verb is used here in the general sense of singing praise. [source]
1 Corinthians 1:5 Ye are enriched [ἐπλουτίσθητε]
Rev. more literally, “were enriched.” Compare Colossians 3:16; and see on Romans 2:4. [source]
Ephesians 5:19 Hymns - spiritual songs []
See on Colossians 3:16. [source]
Ephesians 5:19 To the Lord [τωι Κυριωι]
The Lord Jesus. In Colossians 3:16 we have τωι τεωι — tōi theōi (to God) with all these varieties of praise, another proof of the deity of Christ. See note on Colossians 3:16 for discussion. [source]
Philippians 2:4 Look [σκοποῦντες]
Attentively: fixing the attention upon, with desire for or interest in. So Romans 16:17; Phlippians 3:17; 2 Corinthians 4:18. Hence often to aim at; compare σκοπός themark, Phlippians 3:14. The participles esteeming and looking are used with the force of imperatives. See on Colossians 3:16. [source]
1 Thessalonians 1:8 The word of the Lord [ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου]
The phrase in Paul only in these Epistles. Comp. 2Thessalonians href="/desk/?q=2th+3:1&sr=1">2 Thessalonians 3:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:15. Comparatively frequent in Acts. Paul has λόγος Θεοῦ or τοῦ Θεοῦ wordof God, eight times, and λόγος τοῦ χριστοῦ wordof the Christ, once, Colossians 3:16. The meaning here is the gospel, regarded either as the message proceeding from the Lord, or concerning him. It is the εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ thegospel of God: see 1 Thessalonians 2:2, 1 Thessalonians 2:8, 1 Thessalonians 2:9; Romans 1:1; Romans 15:16; 2 Corinthians 11:7. As Professor Sanday remarks on Romans 1:1, “it is probably a mistake in these cases to restrict the force of the genitive to one particular aspect: all aspects are included in which the gospel is in any way related to God and Christ.” [source]
2 Timothy 1:5 Dwelt [ενωικησεν]
First aorist active indicative of ενοικεω — enoikeō old verb, in N.T. only in Paul (Romans 8:11; Colossians 3:16). [source]
2 Timothy 1:5 Of the unfeigned faith [της ανυποκριτου πιστεως]
Late compound for which see note on 2 Corinthians 6:6; Romans 12:9. Dwelt (ενωικησεν — enōikēsen). First aorist active indicative of ενοικεω — enoikeō old verb, in N.T. only in Paul (Romans 8:11; Colossians 3:16). First Adverb, not adjective In thy grandmother Lois (εν τηι μαμμηι Λωιδι — en tēi mammēi Lōidi). Old word, originally the infantile word for μητηρ — mētēr (mother), then extended by writers to grandmother as here. Common for grandmother in the papyri. Lois is the mother of Eunice, Timothy‘s mother, since Timothy‘s father was a Greek (Acts 16:1). Probably both grandmother and mother became Christians. I am persuaded Perfect passive indicative of πειτω — peithō “I stand persuaded.” In the Pastorals only here and 2 Timothy 1:12, common in Paul‘s other writings (Romans 8:38, etc.). [source]
2 Peter 1:11 Richly [πλουσιως]
See Colossians 3:16 for this adverb. [source]
2 Peter 1:11 Shall be supplied [επιχορηγητησεται]
Future passive of επιχορηγεω — epichorēgeō for which see 2 Peter 1:5. You supply the virtues above and God will supply the entrance See Colossians 3:16 for this adverb.Into the eternal kingdom The believer‘s inheritance of 1 Peter 1:4 is here termed kingdom, but “eternal” Curiously again in the Stratonicea inscription we find της αιωνιου αρχης — tēs aiōniou archēs (of the eternal rule) applied to “the lords of Rome.” But this is the spiritual reign of God in men‘s hearts here on earth (1 Peter 2:9) and in heaven.Of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (του κυριου ημων και σωτηρος Ιησου Χριστου — tou kuriou hēmōn kai sōtēros Iēsou Christou). For which idiom see note on 2 Peter 1:1. [source]
Revelation 5:9 They sing [αιδουσιν]
Present active indicative of αιδω — āidō Old verb, to chant with lyrical emotion (Colossians 3:16). [source]

What do the individual words in Colossians 3:16 mean?

The word - of Christ let dwell in you richly all wisdom teaching and admonishing each other in psalms hymns [and] songs spiritual with - grace singing the hearts of you to God
λόγος τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐνοικείτω ἐν ὑμῖν πλουσίως πάσῃ σοφίᾳ διδάσκοντες καὶ νουθετοῦντες ἑαυτοὺς ψαλμοῖς ὕμνοις ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς ἐν τῇ χάριτι ᾄδοντες ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν τῷ Θεῷ

λόγος  word 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: λόγος  
Sense: of speech.
τοῦ  - 
Parse: Article, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Χριστοῦ  of  Christ 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: Χριστός  
Sense: Christ was the Messiah, the Son of God.
ἐνοικείτω  let  dwell 
Parse: Verb, Present Imperative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἐνοικέω  
Sense: to dwell in.
πλουσίως  richly 
Parse: Adverb
Root: πλουσίως  
Sense: abundantly, richly.
σοφίᾳ  wisdom 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: σοφία  
Sense: wisdom, broad and full of intelligence; used of the knowledge of very diverse matters.
διδάσκοντες  teaching 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: διδάσκω  
Sense: to teach.
νουθετοῦντες  admonishing 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: νουθετέω  
Sense: to admonish, warn, exhort.
ἑαυτοὺς  each  other 
Parse: Reflexive Pronoun, Accusative Masculine 3rd Person Plural
Root: ἑαυτοῦ  
Sense: himself, herself, itself, themselves.
ψαλμοῖς  in  psalms 
Parse: Noun, Dative Masculine Plural
Root: ψαλμός  
Sense: a striking, twanging.
ὕμνοις  hymns 
Parse: Noun, Dative Masculine Plural
Root: ὕμνος  
Sense: a song in tithe praise of gods, heroes, conquerors.
ᾠδαῖς  [and]  songs 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Plural
Root: ᾠδή  
Sense: a song, lay, ode.
πνευματικαῖς  spiritual 
Parse: Adjective, Dative Feminine Plural
Root: πνευματικός  
Sense: relating to the human spirit, or rational soul, as part of the man which is akin to God and serves as his instrument or organ.
τῇ  - 
Parse: Article, Dative Feminine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
χάριτι  grace 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: χάρις  
Sense: grace.
ᾄδοντες  singing 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: ᾄδω  
Sense: to the praise of anyone, to sing.
καρδίαις  hearts 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Plural
Root: καρδία  
Sense: the heart.
ὑμῶν  of  you 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive 2nd Person Plural
Root: σύ  
Sense: you.
Θεῷ  God 
Parse: Noun, Dative Masculine Singular
Root: θεός  
Sense: a god or goddess, a general name of deities or divinities.