“Mortify, therefore {your} members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

“Mortify, therefore your members”
Literally:  “Then put to death your members”—Since you are dead to sin and the world, and are to appear with Christ in the glories of His kingdom, subdue every carnal and evil propensity of your nature. 

 MORTIFY:  (Grk.–nekrōsate)–The word “mortify” means to put to death (Rom. 8:13), “make a corpse of; "make dead"; "put to death” and the meaning here is that they were entirely to subdue their evil desires so that they would have no remains of their former life.

          The believer is not to go to the other Gnostic extreme of license on the plea that the soul is not affected by the deeds of the body. Paul's idea is that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 6:19).
          That is, they were not at all to indulge those desires. Since you are already dead to sin and the world, and are to appear with Christ in the glories of his kingdom, subdue every carnal and evil propensity of your nature.  Paul here applies the metaphor of death (2:20; 3:3) pictured in baptism (Col 2:12) to the actual life of the Christian.

    THEREFORE:  (Grk.–oun)–This denotes a transition to a new topic.  The principles of a pursuit of holiness are now to be spelled out in specific patterns of behavior. Follow out to its necessary consequence the fact of your having once for all died with Christ spiritually at your regeneration, by daily “deadening your members,” of which united “the body of the sins of the flesh” consists (compare 2:11).

Proper Christian living will be shown to be both negative (vv. 5-11) and positive (vv. 12-17).  The negative involves the elimination of the past sins of the old life and the positive describes the development of a righteous character within the new life.

    MEMBERS:  (Grk.–melē)–The word “members” here, refers to the different parts of the body, as the seat of evil desires and passions.  They were wholly to remove those evil passions which Paul specifies as having their seat in the various members of the earthly body

          Put them to death: the verb is used in a metaphoric way to signify depriving a thing of its power, or to destroy its strength. What Paul is saying is that we are to use no part of our body to sin against God.  Keep all under dominion; and never permit the beast to run away with the man. To gratify any sensual appetite is to give it the very food and nourishment by which it lives, thrives, and is active. Deny yourself, and let reason and common sense rule; and then the animal will not get the ascendency over the rational man.
          The “members" to be mortified are the fleshly instruments of lust, in so far as the members of the body are abused to such purposes. Habitually repress and do violence to corrupt desires of which the members are the instruments        

“which are upon the earth,”
Literally:  “which {are} upon the earth”— Where they find their support  (Compare v.2, “things on earth”). your bodily members as the instruments of earthly lust; in other words, the sinful passions that exert their power in your bodily members; so that from being “servants to uncleanness and to iniquity,” they may become “servants to righteousness” (Rom.  6:19). 

Or earthly; are concerned about earthly things, the things of the world, worldly lusts and pleasures, which rise out of earthly mindedness, and incline unto it, and are only what are done here on earth, and will have no place in heaven. The particulars of which follow:

Paul now proceeds to name five sins that are to be avoided.

“fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection,”
Literally:  “fornication, uncleanness, passion”—He mentions some of these "members upon the earth       

   FORNICATION:  (Grk.–porneia)–This is a general word for sexual immorality, both within and without the marital union.  It is based upon two other Greek verbs (peraō) and (pernēmi) which convey the idea of selling bodies, both male and female, for lustful purposes.  It is specifically used of the prostitute (James 2:24; Rev. 17:1, 5).

          The sin of uncleanness the Gentiles did not account as sinful: hence so much notice is taken of it, with a censure, and so often, by Paul, in almost all his epistles, and as a sin against the body, as what disqualified for church communion, and was not to be named among the saints, who should be dead to that, and that to them, as to the commission of it.
          This Greek word
(porneia) is used to denote ALL sexual activities. This was a common and almost universal sin among the ancients, as it is among the moderns.

        UNCLEANNESS:  (Grk.–akatharsian)–Simply meaning moral impurity in all its forms: i.e.,  unnatural and degrading passion; bestial lusts. Caused by the lusts of the heart, it leads to the dishonor of bodies.    The Greek implies, “with a deliberate view to the working (as if it were their work or business, not a mere accidental fall into sin) of uncleanness of every kind.”

“Wherefore God gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves” (Rom. 1:24).

         INORDINATE AFFECTION: (Grk.–pathos)passion; lustful affection. This Greek word is rendered as “vile affections” in Rom. 1:26.

    “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections, for even their women did change the natural use of that which is against nature:
    “And likewise also the men, leaving then natural use of the women, burned in their lust one toward another:  men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves  that recompense of their error which was meet”
(Rom. 2:26-27).

“evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry"
Literally:  “evil lust, and covetousness, which is idolatry”— Evil to show the sense more particularly in which the apostle uses it. 

       EVIL CONCUPISCENCE:  (Grk.–epithumian kakēn)Literally:  “lusts; wicked desire.”  As epithumia signifies strong and vehement desire of any kind, it is here joined with kakē (evil), to show the sense more particularly in which Paul is using it. 

“Not in the lust of concupiscence even as the Gentiles which know not God” (I Thess. 4:5).

         This Greek word epithumian means, “to have more.”  To put it simply, we would say that it is simply GREED.  When Israel worshiped idols, she committed spiritual idolatry because she wanted more than what her spiritual Husband God gave her.  In like manner, a person who commits adultery commits spiritual idolatry. 
         The physical desires created with the human anatomy and personality are divinely given and intrinsically good, but they become evil when they are motivated by the sin nature and are executed for evil ends.  And has a climatic force; and especially toward covetousness 

       COVETOUSNESS(Grk.–pleonexia)—Literally:  “greediness.” A specific type of “covetousness” (tēn pleonexian) displays the presence of idolatry.  See Rom. 1:29.

         It is remarkable that Paul always ranks covetousness with these base and detestable passions. The meaning here is that it is a low and debasing passion, like those which he had specified; and it secures the affections which properly belong to God, and is therefore idolatry.
         A man bestows on money the affections due to God. To worship money is really as much idolatry as it is to worship a block of stone.  This being so, what an idolatrous world we live in! How many idolaters are there in professedly Christian lands! How many, it is to be feared, in the church itself! And since every covetous man is certainly to be excluded from the kingdom of God, how anxious should we be to examine our hearts, and to know whether this sin may not lie at our door!

      WHICH IS: (Grk.–hētis estin)(seeing it stands in the category of…” That is, inasmuch as it is simply idolatry.  Self and mammon are deified in the heart instead of God.  Evil desires; licentious passions, (Rom 1:24).

     IDOLATRY: (Grk.–eidōloloatreia)–Covetousness is idolatry because it secures the affections which properly belong to God, and is therefore idolatry. Of all base passions, this is the one that most dethrones God from the soul.

         The covetous man makes his money his god.  Now, it is the prerogative of God to confer happiness; and every godly man seeks his happiness in God; the covetous man seeks that in his money which God alone can give; therefore his covetousness is properly idolatry.  The covetous man seeks that in his money which God alone can give; therefore his covetousness is really idolatry.  It is true his idol is of gold and silver, but his idolatry is none the less criminal on that account.


Men Bring Divine Judmgnet on Themselves
“For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience.”
In this verse Paul backs his exhortation to mortify sin, with strong arguments and motives.

“For which things sake the wrath of God”–The effects of it in temporal judgments, and eternal ruin and destruction, the wrath to come, which all are deserving of, and there is only deliverance from it: by Christ.  God is angry with such persons, and He inflicts on them the punishment which they deserve. Paul does not regard these sins of the flesh as matters of indifference, far otherwise.

            FOR WHICH THINGS’ SAKE:  (Grk.–di ha)–This is a prepositional phrase which gives the reason why they should be judged.  Men will reap that which they have sown (Gal. 6:7).

         WRATH:  (Grk.–orgē)–The word rendered “wrath” denotes that earnest appetite, or desire, by which we seek anything, or an intense effort to obtain it. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness:” (Rom. 1:18). The present tense of this Greek word denotes the certainty of the  future event..  It is thus synonymous with revenge., “Anger, wrath, malice,” etc. (v, 8).  God's wrath is the due desert of man's sin;

The Holiness of God and His Righteous Displeaure over Sin
This is expressed in the phrase, “the wrath of God.”  With God, such anger is judicial rather than temperamentalIt is balanced within His holy being by mercy, compassion and love.  The prophet Habakkuk knew that God could not condone sin when he wrote:  “O LORD, Thou has ordained them for judgment, and, O mighty God, Thou hast established them for correction.  Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” (Hab. 1:12-13).  Whenever God sees sin in action He is repulsed by it and is moved to judge it.  He cannot be indifferent nor eternally long-suffering.

The Divine Wrath is Coming
“cometh on the children of disobedience.”
Literally:  “is coming on the sons of disobedience”– The wrath of God presently already abides upon those who are disobedient both to the law of God, and Gospel of Christ: upon ALL who have not trusted Christ as Savior, who are unbelievers in Him–“He that believeth on the Son hath (present tense) everlasting life:  and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth (present tense) upon him” (John 3:36).  

“In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.”

In this verse Paul makes two statements about the past life of believers.

1:     They once “Walked” with those who had Practiced such Sins.

“In the which ye also walked some time,”
Literally:  “among whom you also walked at one time”—When you were in your unconverted state, you served divers lusts and pleasures. This is referring to their previous pagan state.  They had been Gentile heathen, and among them licentiousness was at that time universal.  Even Greek moralists sanctioned unchastity, except that of a

When we were without the Gospel, in our carnal and unregenerated state, though believing in the law of Moses, and performing the rites and offices of our religion.  They walked in trespasses and sins: and this was not a solitary case, all the nations of the earth acted in the same way; it was the course of this world.

“according to the life, mode of living, or successive ages of this world.”–The word a complete course, as the Jewish dispensation, a particular government, and the term of human life; so, here, the whole of life is an tissue of sin, from the cradle to the grave; every human soul, unsaved by Jesus Christ, continues to transgress.  And the nominally Christian world is in the same state to the present day.  Age after age passes on in this way and the living lay it not to heart!

These sins were the very element in which you “lived” (before you became once for all dead with Christ to them); no wonder, then, that ye "walked" in them. Compare on the opposite side, “living in the Spirit,” having as its legitimate consequence, “walking in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). The “living” comes first in both cases, the walking follows.

They had once Lived in Them

“when ye lived in them.”
Literally:  “when you lived in these”–As  you lived before you were saved. These were the common vices of the pagan.  In sins, and were dead in them; for to be dead in sin, and to live in sin, is the same thing; living in sin is the death of sin.  Understand that
living refers to the inward principle, while walking is referring to the outward acts.

         Paul is telling these Colossian Gentile believers:  “When you were in your unconverted state, you served a variety of lusts and pleasures.” Then he says to the Jewish believers:  “When we were without the Gospel, in our carnal and unregenerated state, though believing in the Law of Moses, and performing the rites and offices of our religion.”  Then to all these believers (including us today) he says: “These sins were the very element in which you ‘lived’ (that is, before you became once for all dead with Christ to them); no wonder, then, that you ‘walked’ in them. Compare on the opposite side, “living in the Spirit,” having as its legitimate consequence, “walking in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). The “living” comes first in both cases, the walking follows.
        To live in sin is to live after the flesh, after the dictates of corrupt nature; to live a sinful course of life.  It is natural for an unregenerate man to give up himself to sin; to be wholly bent upon it; take delight in it, and to make it his work and business. This had been the case of these believers, but now they were dead to sin, and it was for them to no longer live that way;  but rather to mortify it by denying it, and abstaining from it, and living soberly, righteously, and godly.

         “Walked” is referring to their practice; “lived” is referring to their condition.  Their conduct and their condition are to agree (com. Gal. 5:25—“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”  If we profess to believe a spiritual religion, then let us walk in the Spirit;  let us show in our lives and conversation that the Spirit of God dwells in us.  To put it more simply:  lips and lives must agree.

“But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication”

“But now ye also put off all these;”
Literally:  “But now, you also put off all {these} things.”  That is, all these which follow, as being also inconsistent with the Christian calling.  And this has been one especial part of our teaching, that you should abandon all these, and live a life totally opposite to what it was before.

BUT NOW:  (Grk.–nuni de)—Now that you are no longer living in them.  Being now converted, sin had no more dominion over them.

The Command:

         PUT OFF:  (Grk.–apothesthe)—To put away, lay aside like old clothes. The Greek verb (apothesthe), here rendered as, “put off” calls for decisive and/or immediate resolution.  Just as a runner must lay aside (same word) every weight to run a successful race (Heb. 12:1), so a believer must put off the garments of sin in order to live a beautiful Christian life.

         Paul now begins to use several verbs (here and in following verses) to illustrate what he is talking about: (apothesthe–to put off”) here, (apekdusamenoi-“having put off”) in verse 9, (endusasthe–put on) in verses:10 and 12.
         Paul is saying to these believers that now since they were converted and delivered out of the former state in which they were once, and professed not to walk and live in sin, it behooved them to separate, remove, and put at a distance from them all sins, and every vice,  and to lay them aside as dead weights upon them, and put them off as filthy garments; for such sins are NEVER to be put on, and cleaved to again as formerly; and that not only those, but also the above mentioned, fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness.

    ALL THESE: (Grk.–ta panta). The whole bunch of filthy rags–“anger” (orgên), “wrath” (thumon), “malice” (kakian), “blasphemy” (blasphêmian), “shameful speaking” (aischrologian).

See a somewhat similar lists of vices in v. 5; Gal. 5:20; Eph. 4:29-31. The word (aischrologian) was used for both abusive and filthy talk and Lightfoot combines both ideas as often happens. Such language should never come out of the mouth of a Christian living the new life in Christ.


“anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication
Literally:  “wrath, anger, malice, evil-speaking, shameful speech”—Paul now lists five sins as examples of what to be putting off.  They had not only lived in the evils mentioned (v. 5), but also in those enumerated here; and they had not only laid aside the former, but they had laid aside the latter also.  They retained no easily besetting, sin. They were risen with Christ, and they sought the things which were above.

        ANGER:  (Grk.–orgên)—All cherished, unreasonable anger. And clamour. Noise, disorder, high words; such as men use in a brawl, or when they are excited. Christians are to be calm and serious. Harsh contentions and strife; hoarse brawls and tumults, are to be unknown among them.  This is the same word used in v. 6 for, “wrath of God.”

         Please understand that anger in itself is a proper emotion, if it is controlled by the Holy Spirit and is exercised for holy reasons.  In Eph. 4:26 we read where Paul wrote:  “Be ye angry and sin not:  let not the sun go down upon your wrath.”  However, in the unsaved man, and in the carnal believer it is an attitude of the sinful flesh:  then it is innately wrong.

Anger is sinful in the following circumstances:
1.        When it is excited without any sufficient cause–when we are in no danger, and do not need it for a protection.
           We should be safe without it.

2.        When it transcends the cause, if any cause really exists.
           All that is beyond the necessity of immediate self-protection is apart from its design, and is wrong.

3.        When it is against the person rather than the offence. The object is not to injure another; it is to protect ourselves.
4.        When it is attended with the desire of revenge. That is always wrong, (Rom. 12:17, 19).
5.        When it is cherished and heightened by reflection. And
6.        When there is an unforgiving spirit or a determination to exact the utmost satisfaction for the injury which has been done.

         If men were perfectly holy, that sudden arousing of the mind in danger, or on the reception of an injury, which would serve to prompt us to save ourselves from danger, would exist, and would be an important principle of our nature; but as it is now, it is violent; excessive; incontrollable; persevered in–and is almost always wrong.
         If men were holy, this excitement of the mind would obey the first injunctions of reason, and be wholly under its control; as it is now, it seldom obeys reason at all–and is wholly wrong. Moreover, if all men were holy; if there were none disposed to do an injury, it would exist only in the form of a sudden arousing of the mind against immediate danger–which would all be right. Now, it is excited not only in view of physical dangers, but in view of the wrongs done by others–and hence it terminates on the person, and not the thing, and becomes often wholly evil.

      WRATH:  (Grk.–thumon)–The word here does not differ essentially from anger.  In fact, wrath is really white-hot anger.  It is uncontrolled rage expressed through passionate outbursts.  Anger is kept in, whereas wrath is let out. 

        The desire of revenge, however, is not essential to the existence of the passion, though it is probably always attended with a disposition to express displeasure, to chide, rebuke, or punish. To a great extent the sudden excitement on the reception of an injury is involuntary, and consequently innocent.
        Anger is excited when a horse kicks us; when a serpent hisses; when we dash our foot against a stone; and so when a man raises his hand to strike us. The object or final cause of implanting this passion in the mind of man, is to rouse him when suddenly attacked, and before his reason would have time to suggest the proper means of defense. It prompts at once to self-protection; and when that is done its proper office ceases. If persevered in, it becomes sinful malignity, or revenge–always wrong. Anger may be excited against a thing as well as a person; as well against an act as a man. We are suddenly excited by a wrong thing without any malignancy against the man; we may wish to rebuke or chide that, without injuring him.

          MALICE:  (Grk.–kakian) Rather, “with all evil.”   This is a general term for moral badnessIt includes personal animosity and malicious gossip.

         Malice emphasizes the principle of sin, whereas “wickedness” (ponêria) points out the practice of sin (cf. I Cor. 5).  A man who acts with malice does wrong; one who acts with wickedness does wrong with pleasure  (cf. Rom. 1:18, 32).

        BLASPHEMY:  (Grk.–blasphêmian) The word here seems to mean all injurious and calumnious speaking–whether against God or man; reviling, “evil-speaking,” as it is translated in Eph. 4:31.

“Blasphemy” can be directed toward either (or both) God and man.  This word comes from two Greek words phêni, (which means, “to speak”) and blaptō (which means, “to injure some-one”).  It includes both abusive words and outright slander (see  James 3:9-10).

         SHAMEFUL SPEECH:   (Grk.–aischrologian)This refers to lewd, indecent, and immodest discourse.  The conversation of the pagan everywhere abounds with this.   A pure method of conversation among men is the fruit of Christianity.   The importance of this admonition will be appreciated when it is remembered that:

1.      Such obscene and filthy conversation prevailed everywhere in Paul’s day.

Unfortunately, it still prevails even now among the heathen, or otherwise ungodly.. So general is this, that at almost every missionary station it has been found that the common conversation is so corrupt and defiling, that missionaries have felt it necessary to send their children home to be educated, in order to secure them from the contaminating influence of those around them.

2.     Those who have had the misfortune to be familiar with the common conversation of the lower classes in any community, and especially with the conversation of young men, will see the importance of this admonition.  Scarcely anything can be conceived more corrupt or corrupting than that which often prevails among young men–and even young men in the academies and colleges of this land.
3.      Its importance will be seen from the influence of such corrupt communications.

“The passage of an impure thought through the mind leaves pollution behind it.” The expression of such a thought deepens the pollution on the soul, and corrupts others.

It is like retaining an offensive carcass above ground, to pollute the air, and to diffuse pestilence and death, which should at once be buried out of sight.A Christian should be pure in his conversation. The heaven to which he goes is pure.  The faith which he professes is pure.
1.      NEVER should he indulge himself in any form of obscene talk. 
2.      NEVER should the Christian put out stories of obscene character, or even smile or laugh when they are told by others.
3.      NEVER should he indulge in a jest having a double meaning.
4.      NEVER should he listen to a song of this character (and most of today’s popular “music” is of this sort). 
If those with whom the believer associates have not sufficient respect for themselves and him to abstain from such corrupt and corrupting allusions, he should at once leave them.

Therefore: every kind and sort of evil is to be put away, and you are to manifest only that which is good. All malignity; as anger produces wrath, and wrath clamor, so all together produce malice; that is, settled, sullen, wrath, which is always looking out for opportunities to revenge itself by the destruction of the object of its indignation.  No state of society can be even tolerable where these prevail; and, if eternity were out of the question, it is of the utmost consequence to have these banished from time.