If this variant represents the original text, then who are "the sons of disobedience" (τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας, tous huious tēs apeitheias) in Colossians 3:6?


δι᾿ ἃ ἔρχεται ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ θεοῦ [ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας].
di’ ha erchetai hē orgē tou theou [epi tous huious tēs apeitheias].


On account of these the wrath of God is coming.*

*Some manuscripts add upon the sons of disobedience [ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας, epi tous huious tēs apeitheias].

  • Therefore it remains for some to enter it, yet those to whom it was previously proclaimed did not enter because of disobedience. (Heb. 4:6, 11 NET) and "Just as you were formerly disobedient to God, but have now received mercy due to their disobedience," (Rom. 11:30 NET). In Psalms of Solomon 17:20, disobedience is linked to the figure of the judge.
    – Betho's
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 0:02

3 Answers 3


Paul mentions sons of disobedience in one other epistle, namely Ephesians.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved... (Ephesians 2:1-5 ESV)

In this passage, sons of disobedience is connected to believers before they were saved. It speaks about man's nature before he is born again/regenerated.

Here is the some of the context of Colossians 3:6

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. (Colossians 3:5-7 ESV)

This passage is actually very similar to Ephesians 2 because it talks about the sinfulness of the audience before coming to Christ.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36 ESV)

The wrath of God is for those (sons of disobedience) who have disobeyed God and broken his law. Faith in Jesus Christ saves such people from the wrath of God.

"Sons of disobedience" is a title given only to non-believers in the Bible, although it is possible for believers to also disobey God. However, believers do not experience the wrath of God, but they do experience God's discipline when they sin.

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ... (1 Thessalonians 5:9 ESV)

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5-11 ESV)

God's discipline is out of love for believers, who are considered his children. His wrath is associated only with non-believers, who are called the sons of disobedience.

  • Contextually, could there be a possibility of Christians becoming sons of desobedience when practicing that what is earthly in them and receive some kind of wrath or punishment for not living out the new life as a Christian (not in the sense of condemnation)?
    – E. Cardona
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 22:10
  • @EmanuelCardona I added some more information to my answer as a response to your question. Keep in mind that professing believers can possibly be false converts as we see in Matthew 7:21-23, but that's a different topic. False converts would indeed be considered sons of disobedience and will experience God's wrath.
    – sbunny
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 23:03
  • Thank you for that added information and great contribution. Unfortunately, I have heard "the sons of desobedience" be applied to Christians, the Church of Jesus Christ, and was troubled because I just did not see it in the text.
    – E. Cardona
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 0:33
  • @EmanuelCardona happy to help. I commend you for asking the question and examining the text. Continue to study, and let your life be for the glory of God.
    – sbunny
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 16:02
  • I'm disappointed that small phrases or words are incorrect, though I realize no one is perfect "Here is the some of the context of Colossians 3:6" It does not lend to the credence of this study. Commented May 13, 2018 at 16:34

According to my King James bible, "children of disobedience" is used three times by Paul...All in his so-called prison epistles.

Ephesians 2: 2 wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Ephesians 5: 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

Colossians 3: 6 for which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:

Paul is saying that this wrath is presently coming to this group. Paul is addressing believers. This group also previously walked according to this world. The prince of the power of the air is Satan. So this group previously walked according to Satan and they still continue to walk after Satan. I believe all of this leads us to conclude that the children of disobedience are unbelievers. It is those that do not possess the very righteousness of Christ...they are not "in Christ" but "in Adam".

This may lead to confusion because Paul is clear in II COR 5: 19

to wit [that is to say], that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses [sins] unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

So why would Paul say that wrath would come to those committing the sins mentioned in Eph 5 verses 3, 4, and 5? Since God is not imputing SINS upon the world as stated in II COR 5, why would He impute sins as mentioned in EPH 5? When you see the difference between SIN (the inherent condition that every man possesses) and SINS (the act of committing sins). God did reconcile the world and he is NOT IMPUTING THEIR SINS UPON THEM. Every single sin committed by man was bought and paid for by our savior 2000 years ago at Calvary. Those SINS are wiped clear from God's table of justice. However, every man still possess SIN....his SIN nature. His SIN identity. The only way a man can have that condition taken care of is by trusting in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The moment one places his trust in Christ alone, he is baptized by the Holy Spirit into Christ (hence, being "in Christ"). Just because God reconciled the world unto Himself and is not counting anyone's sins against them (because those sins were placed upon His Son at Calvary) does not mean everyone is going to spend eternity in the heavenly places with Jesus Christ. That person must possess the very righteousness of Christ Himself by BELIEVING that Jesus Christ took their sins away AT CALVARY.

So I believe the "children of disobedience" are: 1) Unbelievers. 2) The sin nature that still resides in every human being.

Every unbeliever has one nature; the old man/sin nature/in Adam/the flesh. Every believer still possesses that old man/sin nature/in Adam but ALSO possesses the new man/in Christ/the flesh. Just because we believers possess the perfect righteousness of Christ Himself does not mean we ever shed the old sin nature. God never promises to reform our flesh. He gives us a new heart that is Christ Himself residing in every one of us. We believers, through study of the scriptures, learn how to submit the old to the new and walk in newness of life. It takes time....

  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics! Some tips for the future. This is an academic site interested in evidence based responses that answer the questioner/s exact question. Please refrain from going off topic. Also, the site is looking for longer answers that provide grammatical and/or contextual evidence to support your answer. BH is looking for reference based answers, so please quote your sources. Comments can be provided by using the comments feature. Thanks for your response.
    – alb
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 23:35
  • @JWH I do not agree with the doctrine you are stating but I appreciate the scope and tenor of your words. See my profile. I have edited to highlight your biblical quotes ; feel free to re-edit if you wish.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 20:21

When you consider the question about the children of disobedience and follow it right from Genesis 3 when sin was sown into the world and why Genesis becouse is the beginning or the seed chapter of the entire bible so what started in Genesis was to carryover to the book of Revelations or harvest chapter so not only that the children of disobedience are unbelievers but also they are really biological children of Satan that he sown into this world by the serpent of Genesis 3:1-6 and God gave an account to what really happened In Genesis 3:15 directly showing that what really happened In Genesis 3:6 was how the seed of first child of disobedience(cain) was sown into the world(1JOHN 3:12 3:8) and consequently we see the human sin was done by this child of disobedience because if cain was fathered by Adam he couldn't commit that sin even as says the scripture(1JOHN 3:9)

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