In Colossians 3:16, the apostle Paul writes, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” On the face of it, this verse seems pretty straightforward. However, if you were to survey a majority of North American Christians today, you would probably find that many of them fail to understand what this verse actually means.

Part of the problem comes down to the fact that English doesn’t have two different words for ‘you’ when talking to one person (singular) or talking to multiple people (plural). The same word is used in both circumstances. However, many languages (including Greek, the original language of the New Testament) have different words to express ‘you (singular)’ vs ‘you (plural).’

With that in mind, when Paul writes, “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” we can actually see that he isn’t talking to ‘you’ as an individual—he’s talking to the church. Having the word dwell in you richly is not primarily meant to be an individualistic task accomplished in the privacy of your own home. It is meant to be accomplished together in fellowship with your brothers and sisters in the context of the gathered local church.

How do I know this? Because there’s actually a second part to Colossians 3:16. After Paul commands the church to let the word of Christ dwell in them richly, he tells them just how they are meant to accomplish that task. They are to do this by, “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” The word of Christ dwells in us richly by means that simply cannot be accomplished alone.

Does this mean that we shouldn’t value personal bible reading? Not at all! Reading our Bibles is a wonderful thing, and we have every reason to want to know and love God’s word as deeply as we can. What this does mean, however, is that many people fail to understand that personal bible reading by itself is not how God intends for us to grow. It would be an enormous mistake for anyone to conclude that they don’t need to attend church because they can just read their Bibles at home. In fact, cut off from a community of believers, that kind of approach has historically been the seedbed for many dangerous interpretations of Scripture that have caused great damage to the broader Christian world. We aren’t meant to interpret the Bible in isolation from the input and feedback of our brothers, sisters, and leaders in the church.

When we grow in the word together as a body of believers under the faithful leadership of godly shepherds who teach us how to interpret Scripture rightly, and when we seek to minister the word to one another in the context of community—that is where the sanctifying power of God’s word is truly at work. So, may we all seek to grow in the word—not separately, but together!

All the best,


Prepare your heart for Sunday by reading the passage and listening to the songs we’ll sing.