Members of Land and Skies

Colossians 3 has two lists that align. The first list describes 13 patterns of sin. The second list describes 13 new patterns to adopt to overcome the first. Both lists map to the 13 tribes, revealing specific areas of weakness and strength in each tribe.


1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4 (Colossians 3:1-4 NIV)

First List (Degenerate Patterns)

Tribe Pattern
5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. Colossians 3:5-11 (Colossians 3:5-7 NIV)
Judah Immorality
Reuben Uncleanness
Gad Intemperate Desires
Asher Evil Lusts
Naphtali Covetousness
Manasseh You also lived among them and were perverted by them
8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (Colossians 3:8 NIV)
Simeon Anger
Levi Wrath
Issachar Malice
Zebulun Blasphemy, Foul Conversation
9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (Colossians 3:9-11 NIV)
Joseph Do Not Lie, Put Away Old Life, Put On New Life
Benjamin Neither Jew nor Aramean, Circumcision or Uncircumcision, Greek nor Barbarian, Slave nor Freeman
Dan Anointing is All and in All Men

Second List (Redemptive Patterns)

Tribe Pattern
12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:12-14 (Colossians 3:12-13 NIV)
Judah Mercy
Reuben Kindness
Gad Gentleness
Asher Humbleness of Mind
Naphtali Meekness
Manasseh Patience, Forbearing and Forgiving
14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:14 NIV)
Simeon Love
15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:15-17 (Colossians 3:15-16 NIV)
Levi Peace
Issachar Called in 1 Body
Zebulun Thankful
Joseph Word Live In You
Benjamin Psalms, Hymns, Spiritual Songs, Singing to God with Grace in Heart
17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17 NIV)
Dan Do Everything in the Name of Jesus

Side by Side Comparison

Benjamin is a clear match to "Neither Jew nor Aramean, etc" in the first list since Benjamin became the modern nation of Israel. The remedy seems odd in that it's singing songs, but structurally there's a tight alignment between the degenerate and the redemptive lists.

There are four categories of us-vs-them in the degenerate list and there are four categories of singing in the redemptive list. Whatever songs are a metaphor for, it must be what helps Benjamin, or anyone, past the us-vs-them dichotomy.

Tribe Degenerate Pattern Redemptive Pattern
Judah Immorality Mercy

Judah is said to have "immorality" and the redemptive side is said to be "mercy." It's hard to know how the redemptive item, in this case mercy, resolves the sin the pattern since "immorality" is a wide open term these days in English. There may be issues at the original language level.

Reuben Uncleanness Kindness

Reuben is said to have "uncleanness" and the remedy is "kindness." Like with Judah, it's hard to know how kindness is a remedy for uncleanness since it's difficult to know what's meant by uncleanness.

Gad Intemperate Desires Gentleness

Gad has "intemperate desires" on the degenerate side, but "gentleness" on the redemptive side. Gad has a pattern of going after things, which explains why he can be intemperate. How is "gentleness" the remedy? This means something along the lines of thinking how our actions effect others and changing our actions accordingly.

Asher Evil Lusts Humbleness of Mind

Asher's remedy makes a lot sense given what's known about Asher from other lists in scripture. In the love chapter, for example, Asher's aspect of love is that "love does not boast." Here, the remedy for "evil lusts" is "humbleness of mind."

The remedy makes lots of sense for Asher even if the degenerate pattern is a bit out of focus. It may be that what's meant by evil lusts is really something more like exaggeration or boasting or being overly high minded rather than simply physical lust.

Naphtali Covetousness Meekness

Naphtali is said to have "covetousness," and the remedy is said to be "meekness." Normally coveting aligns with Benjamin, like in the case of the commandments, and meekness is a word that's hard to define, which makes understanding this alignment difficult.

If covetousness plays to the idea of wanting more and more, taking land, etc., and if Jesus says the "meek will inherit the earth" precisely because they did not covet it in the first place, than we may have a concept space here for Naphtali.

Manasseh You also lived among them and were perverted by them Patience, Forbearing and Forgiving

Manasseh aligns with the first list at the point where the list stops running temporarily and says some things like "you all were around these behaviours and perverted by them too."

Since Manasseh commonly acts like a microcosm of all the tribes, here it's saying you, Manasseh, had all these patterns around you, and came under their influence. The remedy is patience and forbearing and forgiving. In other words, it's a given that you're going to be around these patterns, so be patient, don't give in to them quickly, but instead, forbear those who behave this way and forgive them for their wrongs.

Simeon Anger Love

Simeon goes with "anger" commonly, so this is a strong match and one of the original clues the first list was mapping the 13 tribes. The fix for anger in the second list is "love."

Levi Wrath Peace

Levi has "wrath" in the first list, and in the second "peace." Levi, of course, was not to fight in the army. His commandment, for example, is do not kill. As the modern nation of Switzerland, he has a track record of neutrality.

Issachar Malice Called in 1 Body

Issachar maps to "malice" in the first list and "Called in 1 Body" in the second. If malice is planning harm to your neighbor, then it seems you fight this tendency by remembering they are ultimately family, or part of your body.

Zebulun Blasphemy, Foul Conversation Thankful

Zebulun has "foul conversation" in the first list. In the alignment of the second list Zebulun appears to have being "thankful" as the remedy. If what's meant by foul conversation is really something more along the lines of grumbling, then it's easy to see why being thankful is a remedy.

Joseph Do Not lie, Put Away Old Life, Put On New Life Word Live In You

Joseph shows how to move from an old life of lies to a new life. Let the text of scripture come to life in you.

Benjamin Neither Jew/Aramean, Circumcision/Uncircumcision, Greek/Barbarian, Slave/Freeman Psalms, Hymns, Spiritual Songs, Singing to God with Grace in Heart
Dan Anointing is All and in All Men Do Everything in the Name of Jesus

Dan matches the "Anointing is all, and in all men" tail from the first list. The idea here is that Danites do not, by nature, value the anointing or work to see it formed in all men.

This is what needs to change, relative to this passage of scripture, for Dan. The remedy is clearly a match when aligned. It's to do everything in the name of Jesus. This is how a Danite learns to value the anointing and see it at work in others.


The two lists work well relative to what can be known about the tribes from other parts of scripture and relative to one another when aligned. There are a few head scratchers, but they should be resolvable with more study.