In Colossians 1:3-5, Paul writes of his thanks to God (ESV translation):

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel

He seems to write two time clauses: when we pray and (possibly) since.

The ESV implies that the reason that Paul gives thanks is because of the hope laid up in heaven and not the faith and love of the Corinthians, but the Greek - dia - is normally interpreted as through and not because of.

Which of the two is Paul's cause for giving thanks to God: the faith and love of the Colossians or the hope laid in heaven? I feel this is important to understand here, as it affects the understanding of Paul's small tangent in v.4-8.

  • I had to read your question a couple of times to understand it. I think I do now. I edited your question quite a bit - let me know if you want me to undo.
    – user33515
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 12:03

1 Answer 1


The literal Greek of verse 1 is something like:

We always thank God ... praying for you, [having] heard [of] your faith

The Greek text uses two participles (προσευχόμενοι and ἀκούσαντες) for "pray" (προσεύχομαι) and "hear" (ἀκούω), describing what is going on (or has already happened) as we always thank (εὐχαριστοῦμεν - lit. we give thanks). We don't always use participles in the same sense in English, so these kinds of phrases often get translated with words like "when" or "since" or "as [I/he/she/it] was".

In any case, the word "since" (inserted in the English for clarity) does not indicate cause here - it is sort of related to time (referring to a past event), as you propose.

The proposition dia (διά) has a lot of different meanings (the ESV translates it a dozen different ways elsewhere), many of which are analogous with the meanings of the English word, "through" - which can refer to place (e.g. "I went through the door"), time (e.g. "through the year"), means (e.g. "through the pen"), etc. In v.5, the case of hope (ἐλπίς) is accusative (τὴν ἐλπίδα), which generally refers to cause. (It can also refer to place in the accusative - moving "through" something - but that doesn't fit the context).

So the ESV translation is accurate here: The reason that Paul gives thanks is because of the hope laid up in heaven.

  • That is what I was after. An expert at Greek. I did presume that the translation committee of the ESV would be up there as well.
    – rob b
    Commented Mar 10, 2018 at 5:46

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