A call to a life of purity and work
4 • 1 For the rest, brothers, we ask you in the name of Jesus, the Lord, and we urge you to live in a way that pleases God, just as you have learned from us. This you do, but try to do still more. 2 You know the instructions we gave you on behalf of the Lord Jesus: 3 the will of God for you is to become holy and not to have unlawful sex.
4 Let each of you behave towards his wife as a holy and respectful husband, 5 rather than being led by lust, as are pagans who do not know God. 6 In this matter, let no one offend or wrong a brother. The Lord will do justice in all these things, as we have warned and shown you. 7 God has called us to live, not in impurity but in holiness, 8 and those who do not heed this instruction disobey, not a human, but God himself who gives you his Holy Spirit.
9 Regarding mutual love, you do not need anyone to write to you, because God himself taught you how to love one another. 10 You already practice it with all the brothers and sisters of Macedonia, but I invite you to do more. 11 Consider how important it is to live quietly without bothering others, to mind your own business, and work with your hands, as we have charged you. 12 In obeying these rules you will win the respect of outsiders and be dependent on no one.
Do not grieve as others do
• 13 Brothers and sisters, we want you not to be mistaken about those who are already asleep, lest you grieve as do those who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose; it will be the same for those who have died in Jesus. God will bring them together with Jesus and for his sake.
15 By the same word of the Lord we assert this: those of us who are to be alive at the Lord’s coming will not go ahead of those who are already asleep. 16 When the command by the archangel’s voice is given, the Lord himself will come down from heaven, while the divine trumpet call is sounding. Then those who have died in the Lord will rise first; 17 as for us who are still alive, we will be brought along with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the celestial world. And we will be with the Lord forever.
18 So, then comfort one another with these words.
3 • 1 As I could no longer bear it, I decided to go alone to Athens, 2 and send you Timothy, our brother and co-worker of God in the Gospel of Christ. I wanted him to encourage you in the faith and strengthen you 3 so that none of you might turn back because of the trials you are now enduring. You know that such is our destiny. 4 I warned you of this when I was there: “We shall have to face persecution”; and so it was, as you have seen. 5 Therefore I could not stand it any longer and sent Timothy to appraise your faith and see if the Tempter had tempted you and made our work useless.
6 But now Timothy has just returned with good news of your faith and love. He told us that you remember us kindly and that you long to see us as much as we long to see you. 7 What a consolation for us, brothers and sisters, in the midst of our troubles and trials, this faith of yours! 8 It is a breath of life for us when you stand firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for all the joy that we feel before God because of you? 10 Day and night we beg of him to let us see you again, that we may complete the instruction of the believers.
11 May God our Father and Jesus our Lord prepare the way for us to visit you. 12 May the Lord increase more and more your love for each other and for all people, as he increases our love for you. 13 May he strengthen you internally to be holy and blameless before God, our Father, on the day that Jesus, our Lord, will come with all his saints.
The beginning of the Church of Thessalonica
2 • 1 You well know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not in vain. 2 We had been ill-treated and insulted in Philippi but, trusting in our God, we dared announce to you the message of God, and face fresh opposition. 3 Our warnings did not conceal any error or impure motive, nor did we deceive anyone. 4 But as God had entrusted his Gospel to us as to faithful ministers, we were anxious to please God who sees the heart, rather than human beings. 5 We never pleased you with flattery, as you know, nor did we try to earn money, as God knows. 6 We did not try to make a name for ourselves among people, either with you or anybody else, although we were messengers of Christ and could have made our weight felt.
7 On the contrary, we were gentle with you, as a nursing mother who feeds and cuddles her baby. 8 And so great is our concern that we are ready to give you, as well as the Gospel, even our very lives, for you have become very dear to us.
9 Remember our labor and toil; when we preached the Gospel, we worked day and night so as not to be a burden to you. 10 You are witnesses with God that we were holy, just and blameless toward all of you who now believe. 11 We warned each of you as a father warns his children; 12 we encouraged you and urged you to adopt a way of life worthy of God who calls you to share his own glory and kingdom.
13 This is why we never cease giving thanks to God for, on receiving our message, you accepted it, not as human teaching, but as the word of God. That is what it really is, and as such it is at work in you who believe.
14 Brothers and sisters, you followed the example of the churches of God in Judea, churches of Christ Jesus. For you suffered from your compatriots the same trials they suffered from the Jews, 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and who persecute us. They displease God and harm all people 16 when they prevent us from speaking to the pagans and trying to save them. By doing so they are heaping up their sins, but now Judgment is coming upon them.
17 We are for a time deprived of your presence, but not in our heart, and we eagerly long to see you. 18 For we have wanted to visit you, and I, Paul, more than once; but Satan prevented us. 19 In fact, who but you are our hope and our joy? Who but you will be our glorious crown before Jesus, our Lord, when he returns? 20 Yes, indeed, you are our glory and our joy.
1 • 1 From Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy to the church of Thessalonica which is in God the Father and in Christ Jesus, the Lord.
May the peace and grace of God be with you.
2 We give thanks to God at all times for you and remember you in our prayers. 3 We constantly recall before God our Father the work of your faith, the labors of your love and your endurance in waiting for Christ Jesus our Lord.
4 We remember, brothers and sisters, the circumstances of your being called. 5 The gospel we brought you was such not only in words. Miracles, Holy Spirit and plenty of everything were given to you. You also know how we dealt with you for your sake.
6 In return, you became followers of us and of the Lord when, on receiving the word, you experienced the joy of the Holy Spirit in the midst of great opposition. 7 And you became a model for the faithful of Macedonia and Achaia, 8 since from you the word of the Lord spread to Macedonia and Achaia, and still farther. The faith you have in God has become news in so many places that we need say no more about it. 9 Others tell of how you welcome us and turned from idols to the Lord. For you serve the living and true God, 10 and you wait for his Son from heaven whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who frees us from impending trial.
1 From Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy to Philemon, our friend and fellow worker, 2 to our dear sister Apphia, to Archippus faithful companion in our soldiering, and to all the Church gathered in your house.
3 Grace and peace be with you from God the Father and Jesus Christ the Lord.
4 I never cease to give thanks to my God when I remember you in my prayers, 5 for I hear of your love and faith towards the Lord and all the holy ones. 6 And I pray that the sharing of your faith may make known all the good that is ours in Christ. 7 I had great satisfaction and comfort on hearing of your charity, because the hearts of the saints have been cheered by you, brother.
8 Because of this, although in Christ I have the freedom to command what you should do, 9 yet I prefer to request you in love. The one talking is Paul, the old man, now prisoner for Christ. 10 And my request is on behalf of Onesimus, whose father I have become while I was in prison.
11 This Onesimus has not been helpful to you, but now he will be helpful both to you and to me. 12 In returning him to you, I am sending you my own heart. 13 I would have liked to keep him at my side, to serve me on your behalf while I am in prison for the Gospel, 14 but I did not want to do anything without your agreement, nor impose a good deed upon you without your free consent.
15 Perhaps Onesimus has been parted from you for a while so that you may have him back forever, 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave. For he is a very dear brother to me, and he will be even dearer to you. 17 And so, because of our friendship, receive him as if he were I myself. 18 And if he has caused any harm, or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, write this and sign it with my own hand: I will pay it… without further mention of your debt to me, which is you yourself. 20 So, my brother, please do me this favor for the Lord’s sake. Give me this comfort in Christ.
21 Confident of your obedience I write to you, knowing you will do even more than I ask. 22 And one more thing, get a lodging ready for me because, thanks to all your prayers, I hope to return to you.
23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings. 24 So do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my assistants.
25 May the grace of the Lord Christ be with you. Amen!
Philemon from Colossae has a slave named Onesimus: a typical name for a slave since Onesimus means “useful” (v. 11). Onesimus escapes and goes to Rome where he expects to disappear in the crowd. Accidentally, or luckily, he meets Paul whom he had known in his master’s house. At this point, Paul is imprisoned in Rome, but enjoys certain privileges enabling him to go out in the company of a policeman. Onesimus is converted and baptized; then Paul makes him go back to his former master with the letter of recommendation that we read here.
Paul asks that the slave be seen as a brother, and even suggests that the slave be freed (v. 21).
We have already seen the advice Paul gives to slaves in Col 3:22. In those first years of the Church, obtaining God’s life in Christ seemed such a tremendous privilege, providing such inner freedom, that being a slave or being free did not greatly matter (see 1 Cor 7:17).
At that time no one thought that a change of social structure was feasible: there were slaves and there would always be slaves. The Christians were few and without any influence. Thus, they were not concerned about reforming society, nor about laws to eliminate slavery. Even before the time it became necessary to think about changing the laws, faith was already against treating slaves as “objects” or inferiors: because they were Christians, an increasing number of masters—in the Church—spontaneously renounced their rights and granted freedom to their slaves.
Many people think that the Christian community has nothing to say concerning their responsibilities to society. Here, on the contrary, we see how Paul involves the whole community in Philemon’s problem.
4 1 As for you, masters, give your servants what is fair and reasonable, knowing that you yourselves have a Master in heaven.
• 2 Be steadfast in prayer and even spend the night praying and giving thanks. 3 Pray especially for us and our preaching: may the Lord open a door for us that we may announce the mystery of Christ. Because of this I am in chains; 4 pray then that I may be able to reveal this mystery as I should.
5 Deal wisely with those who do not belong to the Church; take advantage of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be pleasing with a touch of wit. Know how to speak to everyone in the best way.
7 Tychicus will give news of me. He is our dear brother and for me a faithful assistant and fellow worker for the Lord. 8 I am purposely sending him to give you news of me and to encourage you. 9 With him I am sending Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of yours. They will tell you about everything that is happening here.
10 My companion in prison, Aristarchus, greets you, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, about whom you have already received instructions. If he calls on you, receive him warmly. 11 Jesus, called Justus, also greets you. They are the only Jewish people working with me for the kingdom of God, and because of that they have been a comfort to me.
12 Greetings from your countryman Epaphras, a good servant of Christ Jesus. He constantly battles for you through his prayer that you be perfect and firm in whatever God asks of you. 13 I assure you that he has worked hard for you, as well as for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.
14 Greetings from Luke, our dear doctor and from Demas. 15 Greet the brothers and sisters of Laodicea, and don’t forget Nympha and the church that gathers in her house.
16 After reading this letter, see that it is read in the Church of the Laodiceans, and have the letter they received read in yours. 17 And say to Archipus, “Do not forget the ministry given to you in the Lord.”
18 Greetings in my own hand, Paul. Remember that I am in chains. Grace be with you.
Seek the things that are above
3 • 1 So then, if you are risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on earthly things. 3 For you have died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, reveals himself, you also will be revealed with him in Glory.
5 Therefore, put to death what is earthly in your life, that is immorality, impurity, inordinate passions, wicked desires and greed which is a way of worshiping idols. 6 These are the things that arouse the wrath of God.
7 For a time you followed this way and lived in such disorders. 8 Well then, reject all that: anger, evil intentions, malice; and let no abusive words be heard from your lips.
Put on the new self
• 9 Do not lie to one another. You have been stripped of the old self and its way of thinking 10 to put on the new, which is being renewed and is to reach perfect knowledge and the likeness of its creator. 11 There is no room for distinction between Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, foreigner, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.
12 Clothe yourselves, then, as is fitting for God’s chosen people, holy and beloved of him. Put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience 13 to bear with one another and forgive whenever there is any occasion to do so. As the Lord has forgiven you, forgive one another. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 May the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts; for this end you were called to be one body. And be thankful.
16 Let the word of God dwell in you in all its richness. Teach and admonish one another with words of wisdom. With thankful hearts sing to God psalms, hymns and spontaneous praise. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
• 18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as you should do in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not get angry with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, because that pleases the Lord. 21 Parents, do not be too demanding of your children, lest they become discouraged.
22 Servants, obey your masters in everything; not only while they are present, to gain favor with them, but sincerely, because you fear the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly, working for the Lord, and not for humans. 24 You well know that the Lord will reward you with the inheritance. You are servants, but your Lord is Christ. 25 Every evildoer will be paid back for whatever wrong has been done, for God does not make exceptions in favor of anyone.
Let Christ Jesus, the Lord, be your doctrine
2 • 1 I want you to know how I strive for you, for those of Laodicea and for so many who have not met me personally. 2 I pray that all may be encouraged. May you be established in love, that you may obtain all the riches of a full understanding and know the mystery of God, Christ himself. 3 For in him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4 So let no one deceive you with persuasive arguments. 5 Although I am far from you, my spirit is with you and I rejoice in recalling how well-disciplined you are and how firm in the faith of Christ.
6 If you have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, let him be your doctrine. 7 Be rooted and built up in him; let faith be your principle, as you were taught, and your thanksgiving overflowing.
8 See that no one deceives you with philosophy or any hollow discourse; these are merely human doctrines not inspired by Christ but by the wisdom of this world. 9 For in Him dwells the fullness of God in bodily form. 10 He is the head of all cosmic power and authority, and in him you have everything.
Baptized and risen
• 11 In Christ Jesus you were given a circumcision but not by human hands, which removed completely from you the carnal body: 12 I refer to baptism. On receiving it you were buried with Christ; and you also rose with him for having believed in the power of God who raised him from the dead.
13 You were dead. You were in sin and uncircumcised at the same time. But God gave you life with Christ. He forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of our debts, those regulations which accused us. He did away with all that and nailed it to the cross. 15 Victorious through the cross, he stripped the rulers and authorities of their power, humbled them before the eyes of the whole world and dragged them behind him as prisoners.
• 16 So, then, let no one criticize you in matters of food or drink or for not observing festivals, new moons or the Sabbath. 17 These things were only shadows of what was to come, whereas the reality is the person of Christ. 18 Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on humbling practices and worship of angels. In fact, they are only good to satisfy self-indulgence, 19 instead of holding firmly to the head, Christ. It is he who nourishes and gives unity to the whole body by a complex system of nerves and ligaments, making it grow according to the plan of God.
20 If you have really died with Christ, and are rid of the principles of the world, why do you now let yourselves be taught as if you belonged to the world? 21 “Do not eat this, do not taste that, do not touch that…” 22 These are human rules and teachings, referring to things that are perishable, that wear out and disappear. 23 These doctrines may seem to be profound because they speak of religious observance and humility and of disregarding the body. In fact, they are useless as soon as the flesh rebels.
1 • 1 Paul, apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God and Timothy our brother,
2 to the saints in Colossae, our faithful brothers and sisters in Christ:
Receive grace and peace from God our Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 Thanks be to God, the Father of Christ Jesus, our Lord!
We constantly pray for you, 4 for we have known of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints. Indeed you await in hope the inheritance reserved for you in heaven, 5 of which you have heard through the word of truth. This Gospel, 6 already present among you, is bearing fruit and growing throughout the world, as it did among you from the day you accepted it and understood the gift of God in all its truth.
7 He who taught you, Epaphras, our dear companion in the service of Christ, faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 has reminded me of the love you have for me in the spirit. 9 Because of this, from the day we received news of you, we have not ceased praying to God for you, that you may attain the full knowledge of his will through all the gifts of wisdom and spiritual understanding.
10 May your lifestyle be worthy of the Lord and completely pleasing to him. May you bear fruit in every good work and grow in the knowledge of God.
11 May you become strong in everything by a sharing of the Glory of God, so that you may have great endurance and persevere in joy.
12 Constantly give thanks to the Father who has empowered us to receive our share in the inheritance of the saints in his kingdom of light. 13 He rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. 14 In him we are redeemed and forgiven.
Christ is the beginning of everything
• 15 He is the image of the unseen God,
and for all creation he is the firstborn,
16 for in him all things were created,
in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible:
thrones, rulers, authorities, powers…
All was made through him and for him.
17 He is before all
and all things hold together in him.
18 And he is the head of the body, that is the Church,
for he is the first, the first raised from the dead
that he may be the first in everything,
19 for God was pleased to let fullness dwell in him.
20 Through him God willed to reconcile all things to himself,
and through him, through his blood shed on the cross,
God establishes peace,
on earth as in heaven.
• 21 You yourselves were once estranged and opposed to God because of your evil deeds, 22 but now God has reconciled you in the human body of his Son through his death, so that you may be without fault, holy and blameless before him. 23 Only stand firm, upon the foundation of your faith, and be steadfast in hope. Keep in mind the Gospel you have heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
24 At present I rejoice when I suffer for you; I complete in my own flesh what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his body, which is the Church. 25 For I am serving the Church since God entrusted to me the ministry to make the word of God fully known. 26 I mean that mysterious plan that for centuries and generations remained secret, and which God has now revealed to his holy ones.
27 God willed to make known to them the riches and even the Glory that his mysterious plan reserved for the pagan nations: Christ is in you and you may hope God’s Glory.
28 This Christ we preach. We warn and teach everyone true wisdom, aiming to make everyone perfect in Christ. 29 For this cause I labor and struggle with the energy of Christ working powerfully in me.