What does Colossians 3:2 really mean?

2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.


Setting the Scene for Colossians 3:2

In Colossians chapter 3, the scene is set in a small house church in the ancient city of Colossae. The room is dimly lit by oil lamps, casting a warm glow on the faces of the believers gathered there. The air is filled with the scent of incense burning in the corner, creating an atmosphere of reverence and peace.

Among the group of believers are Philemon, a wealthy man known for his generosity and hospitality, and Onesimus, a runaway slave who has recently become a follower of Christ. Also present are Apphia, Philemon’s wife, and Archippus, a fellow minister in the church. They have all come together to study the teachings of the apostle Paul, who wrote this letter to encourage and instruct them in their faith.

As they sit on cushions scattered on the floor, Philemon reads aloud from the scroll containing Paul’s letter, emphasizing the importance of setting their minds on things above and not on earthly things. The flickering light dances on their faces as they listen intently, absorbing the words that challenge them to live out their faith in practical ways. In this humble setting, surrounded by their fellow believers, they are reminded of the call to unity, love, and forgiveness in Christ.

What is Colossians 3:2 about?

This verse from the book of Colossians urges us to focus our thoughts and desires on heavenly things rather than being consumed by materialistic or earthly pursuits. It challenges us to prioritize spiritual growth, virtues, and eternal values over temporary and worldly distractions. We align ourselves with God’s will and seek to cultivate a deeper connection with Him by setting our minds on things above.

Think about what consumes your thoughts and energy on a daily basis. Are they centered on superficial gains or momentary pleasures, or are they directed towards building a lasting relationship with God and serving others? This verse invites us to reflect on our priorities and make a conscious effort to shift our mindset towards heavenly matters. We can find true meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in our lives by fixing our gaze on the eternal rather than the transient.

Understanding what Colossians 3:2 really means

Introduction and Context

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” This verse from Colossians 3:2 offers profound guidance for believers. To fully appreciate its depth, let’s explore its context, meaning, and relevance to our daily lives. The Apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians while imprisoned, addressing various theological and practical issues within the early Christian community. This particular verse is part of a broader exhortation to live a life that reflects our new identity in Christ.

Meaning of Key Phrases

“Set your minds on things above” calls us to focus our thoughts, values, and priorities on heavenly matters rather than earthly ones. It’s a directive to align our mindset with God’s kingdom, emphasizing spiritual growth, eternal truths, and divine wisdom. “Earthly things” refers to transient, material, and often superficial concerns that can distract us from our spiritual journey.

Biblical Cross-References

This idea echoes Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:33, where He instructs, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Both passages emphasize prioritizing our relationship with God over worldly pursuits. Additionally, Romans 12:2 advises, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” These verses collectively encourage a mindset shift from worldly to spiritual. It’s easy to become preoccupied with material success, social status, and immediate gratification in our fast-paced, consumer-driven society. This verse challenges us to rise above such distractions and center our lives on what truly matters. Reflect on your daily routine: How often do you pause to consider the eternal perspective? Are your actions and decisions aligned with your faith and spiritual goals? A successful businessman, despite his wealth, felt an unshakeable emptiness. He realized his life lacked purpose beyond material gain. It wasn’t until he started volunteering at a local shelter, connecting with others, and deepening his faith that he found true fulfillment. His shift in focus from “earthly things” to “things above” transformed his life, illustrating the profound impact of this verse. Let’s remember to set our minds on things above as we navigate our daily lives. This doesn’t mean neglecting our earthly responsibilities but rather integrating our faith into every aspect of our lives. We can experience a deeper sense of purpose, peace, and joy by doing so. Take a moment each day to reflect on your priorities and ask yourself: Are they aligned with the eternal values of God’s kingdom?

How can we set our minds on things above?

We can set our minds on things above by focusing on the eternal rather than the temporary. This involves prioritizing spiritual matters and aligning our thoughts with God’s perspective. We remind ourselves of what truly matters and find peace and joy in knowing that our ultimate hope and security are found in Christ by intentionally directing our thoughts towards heavenly things.

Setting our minds on things above also means seeking to understand God’s will and purpose for our lives. This involves regular prayer, studying God’s Word, and surrounding ourselves with fellow believers who can encourage and challenge us in our faith journey. When our minds are fixed on things above, we are better equipped to navigate the challenges and temptations of this world with a perspective that is rooted in God’s truth and promises.


Picture your mind as the engine driving your daily life. If you feed it with distractions and earthly worries, it will break down. Colossians 3:2 challenges you to fuel your mind with heavenly thoughts and genuine spiritual growth. Just as you prioritize your work and family, make room for God’s will in your life. Imagine the impact of aligning your thoughts with a higher purpose. Are you ready to upgrade your mental engine and focus on what truly matters?