Colossians 3:9-10

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

My literal interpretation

Don’t lie now that you have become a new you that doesn’t have the habits of the old persona. You have taken on a new persona, which is getting replenished knowledge from the source that made it.

Initial thoughts

We are starting off with “do not lie to each other.” Ok, generally sound advice, though it is somewhat dependent on the circumstances why you may have withhold the truth. The reason given for not lying is that apparently you used to have a habit of lying but you have reinvented yourself. 

After that, I’m getting a little lost with the meaning of “renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Is the new self in the image of a creator god? I thought Christians believe that all people were created in the image of their god. Does this verse mean before this renewal process, we aren’t made in the image of god?

Or is it just the knowledge the new self has that is in the image of a god? How can knowledge have an image? It’s just neurons firing in the brain. Is that what the god looks like? I guess the flying spaghetti monster is a pretty close depiction of it then!

Other translations

Many of the English translations change “your old self” to “the old man”. No matter what changes I might go through, I am never going to be changing from an old man into anything else. Both German versions, as well as the English Wycliffe translation, refer to the old self as the old human (“den alten Menschen”) and discuss the change like a change of clothes. The Luther Bible 1912 states, “zieht den alten Menschen mit seinen Werken aus” (take off the old human along with his works), while Elberfelder 1905 suggests that the old human is taken off along with his actions (“mit seinen Handlungen”). The Tyndale version also used the word “workes” and the Orthodox Jewish Bible uses “ma’asim (works)”, while all other available English translations refer to “doings”, “practices”, “ways”, “deeds”, “habits”, and “things you did” as your old self. The term “works” would imply physical objects created by someone rather than just ways of interacting with others as the other terms suggest. So, do the lies that people used to tell before this change just refer to dishonest actions or do they also include physical fraudulent items? 

Now let’s attempt to clear up the relationship between the renewed knowledge and the image of god. The Message Bible illustrates it like a make-over: “Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete.” So, all the stuff we own gets swapped out with god-brand fashion. But that translation went far into the weeds from the knowledge that is mentioned in many other translations. 

Some other interpretations are less consumer-oriented. The Good News Translation offers the idea that “new being which God, its Creator, is constantly renewing in his own image, in order to bring you to a full knowledge of himself.” So, the new person learns all there is to know about the god. The GOD’S WORD Translation (and that one has to be the definitive one, especially since the title is in all caps) goes one giant step further and asserts that “This new person is continually renewed in knowledge to be like its Creator.” The New Living Translation combines knowing about the god and becoming like him with “be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”

So, what is this transformation going to actually do? Will it turn me into a god or something like a god? Will I just become a new me that knows all about this god? Or will I just get all new stuff with “Jesus”, or maybe just a little cross, stamped on it?

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