Colossians 3:5 (KJV):

  1. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Colossians 3:5 (GNT):

  1. Νεκρώσατε οὖν τὰ μέλη ὑμῶν τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, πορνείαν, ἀκαθαρσίαν, πάθος, ἐπιθυμίαν κακήν, καὶ τὴν πλεονεξίαν, ἥτις ἐστὶν εἰδωλολατρία,

In this verse Paul mentioned Covetousness (greed)=(πλεονεξίαν), as idolatry, how, logically, greed be worshipping Idols?

All of us know that greed is striving of the person to be more and more rich.

Greed is Idolatry seems strange!.

In Colossians 3:5 Paul mentioned greed after four sensual pleasures, about Sex and whim, i.e: fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 Paul warn from adultery and Coveting in the wife of another person.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 (KJV):

  1. For this is the will of God, {cf15I even} your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
  2. That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
  3. Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
  4. That no {cf15I man} go beyond and defraud his brother in {cf15I any} matter: because that the Lord {cf15I is} the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
  5. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

Defraud in other translations is (wrong). In some Arabic translations it is يطمع meaning (covets)=(πλεονεκτεῖν).

1 Thessalonians 4:6 (GNT):

  1. τὸ μὴ ὑπερβαίνειν καὶ πλεονεκτεῖν ἐν τῷ πράγματι τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ, διότι ἔκδικος Κύριος περὶ πάντων τούτων, καθὼς καὶ προείπαμεν ὑμῖν καὶ διεμαρτυράμεθα.

So, what is the relationship between Covetousness and Idolatry?

May Paul means specific kind of covetousness which is coveting in another man's wife?

Look the Ten Commandments.

  • to love money is to idolize money. It's similar with most of your kind questions---like the one about 'perfecting.' Perfection, in English, also has a previous, older, meaning--that of 'completion.' Wanting something other than God or to the point of distraction from God is....idol worship. It shouldn't be a difficult concept. English, like every language, isn't mathematics. Nor is the Bible. In translation, or in Hebrew or Greek, both of which I wish I knew
    – Walter S
    Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 18:26

5 Answers 5


In Colossians 3:5, how greed (covetousness) be idolatry?

Colossians 3:5 (KJV):

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

GREEDINESS is a common vice most persons fail to take it seriously. God’s Word, however, speaks out against it in the strongest of terms:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NASB)

9 "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor [a]effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God."(Compare also Ephesians 5:3-5)

The Scriptures associate greediness with such gross sins as adultery, fornication, and idolatry? Because of its seriousness. It is an extreme form of selfishness. It is an intense, passionate desire or craving either to gain far more than what is reasonable or needed or to gain that which rightfully belongs to another. It is idolatry, for what one greedily desires he worships.

Greediness is not limited to the love of money. Greediness also manifests itself in extreme fondness of food and drink, honor and fame, power and sex.

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    "Whatever gets your attention gets you". It is a simple fact that anything we supremely desire (= covetousness) is our god which, by definition, is idolatry. (+1)
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 0:28
  • True, anything we crave more than we need is idolatry 1 John 2: 16 thanks. Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 10:26

It's important to remember what the ten commandments represent. Just as Jesus divided all laws into two general categories (love your god, love your fellow man), the ten commandments divides all laws into ten general categories.

Colossians 3:5 uses the Greek word πλεονεξία (pleonexia, G4124) for covetousness, which is not the same word that is used for "covet" in the tenth commandment, ἐπιθυμέω (epithymeō, G1937).

The tenth commandment is about using extortion or similar means to obtain something that one cannot normally obtain. (It is not about thoughts or desires, as is commonly assumed in Christianity. In Judaism, sins are about actions only, not about thoughts.)

In Colossians 3:5, covetousness refers to putting physical possessions ahead of everything else (as in the parable of the rich man and the camel). In terms of the ten commandments, that falls into the category of the second commandment (idolatry), attributing power to physical things and giving in to that power.


The word “mortify,” as used here, means “to discipline (one’s body and appetites) by self-denial” (American Heritage Dictionary). The Greek word “NEKROO,” from which “mortify” was translated, means “to deaden, i.e. (figuratively) to subdue” (Strong’s Concordance).

The Lord is giving us a command to bring our bodies and souls under control. He would be unjust to command such a thing if we were incapable of doing it.

Covetousness” is really the root of all sin, because it is a selfish desire. The English word “covetousness” in this verse was translated from the Greek word “PLEONEXIA.” PLEONEXIA comes from “PLEONEKTES,” and PLEONEKTES is derived from “ECHO” (“to hold”) and “PLEION” (“more in quantity, number, or quality”) (Strong’s Concordance).

The original sin of Adam and Eve involved covetousness. They craved for themselves what God had not given them. They were not content with the perfection that God had given, and they felt they had to have more to be content. The same discontentment infects the human race today.

“The Greeks themselves defined covetousness as insatiate desire and said that you might as easily satisfy it as you might fill with water a bowl with a hole in it. They defined it as the sinful desire for what belongs to others. It has been described as ruthless self-seeking. Its basic idea is the desire for that which a man had no right to have. It is, therefore, a sin with a very wide range. If it is prestige, it leads to evil ambition. If it is the desire for power, it leads to sadistic tyranny. If it is the desire for a person, it leads to sexual sin.

C.F.D. Moule well describes it as ‘the opposite of the desire to give’” (Daily Study Bible Series: The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, pp. 151-152).

Covetousness is idolatry. A strong statement! If anything we seek takes priority over seeking God, then that is covetousness and idolatry.


What is greed? Greed is nothing but when one longs for some things with an aim of possessing them, but then what sort of things? There are two types of things, eternal/invisible (2 Cor. 4:18 and Plato in so many dialogues) and temporal/visible. Now, if one covets and longs for eternal things, that is to say divine things, God's grace and operations, then such guy is not greedy at all, but a servant of God who develops towards perfection trying to fulfill the main commandment of the Lord to be as perfect as Himself and the Father (Matthew 5:48). But if one is greedy for temporal things, this means that he puts those things above spiritual things, and thus, is an idolater, for spiritual, uncreated, eternal things are God, aspects and manifestations of God - goodness, beauty, power, justice and greatest of all, mercy and love, and to exchange them desiringly for the temporal things represents the essence of idolatry and also of greed. Thus, greed is idolatry.


I really disagree with this perspective. I would acuse Paul of sermonization or overusing ministerial license if he were preaching today. I believe the Lord means what HE says, sometimes the human transmitter puts too much flesh in it. If everything you filled your time with was idolatry, there would be only one commandment. All sin keeps us from heaven. We have the notion of severity of sin. I believe that getting on your knees in front of a piece of wood regularly is worse than spending your Sundays fishing. Sins of ommission are not equal to sins of commission; altho I don't see how it matters to Christians who cannot stay in a sinful state.

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