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English Standard Version

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

New Living Translation

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

lust,
πάθος (pathos)
Noun - Accusative Neuter Singular
Strong's Greek 3806: Suffering, emotion, depraved passion, lust. From the alternate of pascho; properly, suffering, i.e. a passion.

In https://biblehub.com/colossians/3-5.htm, 15 versions translate πάθος as passion, 10 as lust. What is the best translation for readers today?

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1 Answer 1

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The word πάθος (pathos) only occurs three times in the NT:

  • Rom 1:26 - For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.
  • Col 3:5 - Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.
  • 1 Thess 4:5 - not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;

BDAG defines πάθος (pathos) in the NT as: "experience of strong desire, passion"

Note the use in 1 Thess 4:5 where it occurs in the phrase, πάθει ἐπιθυμίας = "passion of lust". My personal preference is to keep the word "lust" for ἐπιθυμία; however, both ἐπιθυμία and πάθος both mean very strong desire which is not necessarily sexual, but can be sexual (eg, as per Rom 1:26).

The fact that Paul in Col 3:5 specifically lists πορνεία (porneia) = sexual immorality, possibly means that he means more than just sexual desire in pathos, without excluding that either.

"Lust" in English carries strong sexual overtones which do not necessarily obtain with pathos. Therefore, the safest translation here and elsewhere is as per BDAG, "passion".

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  • Thank you for your answer, Dottard! Can you help explain how “passion” reflects the connotations of suffering in the original Greek word? I get confused by the addition of “suffering” in the meaning as it relates to the other words Paul uses.
    – Gremosa
    Dec 27, 2022 at 2:36
  • @Gremosa - probably, the general trhrust of the meaning of pathos in the NT is (as per BDAG) "strong desire" with overtones of unbridled (almost wreckless) desire for someting.
    – Dottard
    Dec 27, 2022 at 6:09
  • @Dottard I really like this answer. Can I copy your answer here and share it with the members of my subreddit?
    – Tony Chan
    Dec 27, 2022 at 16:15
  • @TonyChan - again, feel free. Thanks for asking.
    – Dottard
    Dec 27, 2022 at 18:41

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