The first four verses of the passage are focused on the internal surrender to Christ’s Lordship while directing Christians towards external applications.
[ESV] Colossians 3:12. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
The passage begins in verse twelve with an exhortation to “[p]ut on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience”. The verb Endysasthe, or ‘to put on’, contains two additional significant meanings: “to clothe” and “to be invested (with qualities)”. The English equivalent, ‘to put on’, is strictly external, but the Greek verb is more nuanced. Endysasthe can imply both the external and the internal. This exhortation is made possible by the agency of God.
As His ‘chosen’ ones, or eklektoi, Christians are the “recipients of special privileges”. The term ‘chosen’, or sometimes ‘elect’, frequently refers to the church membership when used in the epistles. They are described as being hagioi, “separate from common condition and use”, and ēgapēmenoi, considered valuable and worthwhile. Through dedicated divine enablement Christians are to invest themselves with five key qualities. These five qualities are parallel to the five sinful qualities warned against in Colossians 3:5.
The very core of a Christian is to be dedicated to the relief of “sorrow and want”, as indicated by the phrase oiktirmou splanchna. One is to operate with “beneficence”, or chrēstotēta, and to be humble and meek. The Christian is to adopt a “slowness of avenging injuries”, as implied by the Greek equivalent to ‘patience’, makrothymian. The starting focus for mature Christian relationships is on the individual who is commanded to be patient rather than the one who may be causing others to need patience.