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Colossians 4 - Continue in Prayer

INTRODUCTION: Chapter four begins with a comment about the conduct of masters, which is part of the list started in chapter three. Paul moves on to emphasize consistency in prayer for all saints. He mentions some fellow workers by name, and then closes this relatively short letter by indicating he has written it in his own hand.

NOTE: The Bible text for Colossians Bible verses are from the Modern KJV unless otherwise designated.

Colossians 4:1

"1 Masters, give to your slaves what is just and equal, knowing that you also have a Master in Heaven."

COMMENTS: This verse regarding masters closes the list of groups started in chapter three, that included husbands, wives, children, and slaves. The first four in the listing of groups was followed by verses containing collective thoughts that have application for all five groups. Perhaps the content of Colossians 3:23-25 was very appropriate to be emphasized before finally listing masters, to make a clear impression on those most likely to be proud.
Colossians 3:23-25 (AV) "And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons."

Even those who have authority over others are serving Christ, and their position in the world has no special merit with the Lord. This list appears also in Ephesians, but a chapter break comes more at the beginning of the list, and the verse about masters, itself contains the thought of no respect of persons.
Ephesians 6:9 (AV) "And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him."

Colossians 4:2-4

"2 Continue in prayer and watch in it with thanksgiving, 3 praying together about us also, that God may open to us a door of the Word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I also have been bound, 4 that I may make it clear, as I ought to speak."

COMMENTS: An amplified paraphrase might say: "2 Be steadfastly attentive and give your unremitting care to prayer, and be vigilant with strict attention to thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray for us also, that God will open a door allowing us to discourse and tell of the things not understood about Christ, those things for which I have been imprisoned."
Paul's desire is to see the saints continually practicing prayer and thanksgiving to the Lord; and to have them praying for him that he would have a clear message, because he firmly believes he is to continue spreading the gospel despite any external circumstance that might work against him. In another of his letters he said this about continuing in prayer.
Romans 12:12 (AV) "Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;"

Colossians 4:5-6

"5 Walk in wisdom toward those on the outside, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech be always with grace, having been seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one."

COMMENTS: Most of the letter has detailed the proper conduct before our Lord, and toward other saints, but it is important to have a proper attitude toward those who are still of the world. Paul is exhorting other saints to follow his example to continually spread the gospel of Christ. Our conduct should be a display of Godly wisdom towards those outside in order to buy up the opportune time we have to speak of the grace we have experienced.
Proverbs 14:8 (AV) "The wisdom of the prudent [is] to understand his way: but the folly of fools [is] deceit."
1Corinthians 1:21 (AV) "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."
1Corinthians 1:24 AV) "But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God."
1Corinthians 2:5 (AV) "That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."

Our wisdom must be from our understanding of God's ways, and must give evidence that Christ is both the wisdom and the power of God. If our words and actions are lacking any seasoning for the soul, they will have little success in allowing others to taste and see that the Lord is good. Even Job said the white of an egg has no flavor, and that is why we add salt, as seasoning to enhance the taste.
Job 6:6 (AV) "Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there [any] taste in the white of an egg?"
Psalm 34:8 (AV) "O taste and see that the LORD [is] good: blessed [is] the man [that] trusteth in him."

Colossians 4:7-9

"7 Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord, will make known to you all things about me. 8 I sent him to you for this very purpose, that he might know the things about you, and that he might comfort your hearts, 9 along with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known to you all things here."

COMMENTS: Paul refers to both men commendably as Faithful and Beloved, and in fact Tychicus means "faithful", and Onesimus means "profitable or useful."These men were not just carrying the letter for delivery, but they would spend some time with the saints at Colosse; giving comfort to them, and relating personal detail of Paul's situation and greetings. Epaphras had spent time in Colosse, imparting the word and gaining first-hand knowledge to share with Paul; and Paul is sending those who have likewise spent time with him, to share with the church at Colosse. This was a pattern for Paul and those around him, to travel to various locations building relationships and then sharing those relationships with other churches as they traveled again.

Colossians 4:10-11

"10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (regarding whom you received commandments; if he comes to you, receive him), 11 and greetings from Jesus, who is called Justus, those being of the circumcision. These alone are my fellow-workers for the kingdom of God, who became a comfort to me."

COMMENTS: Paul refers to Aristarchus as a fellow prisoner, which seems to indicate he was not free to travel as was also the case for Paul. Mark is identified as the relative of Barnabas, and Paul recommends him to the church, in the event that Mark visits them at a future time. Jesus, called Justus, was apparently a Jewish Christian who was of good comfort to Paul. Mention of these people by name in Paul's letter, with complimentary adjectives, indicates that relationships and interpersonal exchanges were important in the church, and that the letter was not just bare doctrine issued from apostolic authority. It was truly communication more than documentation.

Colossians 4:12-13

"12 Epaphras greets you, he being of you, a servant of Christ, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him record that he has a great zeal for you and for those who are in Laodicea and those in Hierapolis."

COMMENTS: Epaphras was mentioned at the beginning of this letter as a key figure within the church at Colosse. Paul makes it clear that Epaphras has very warm affection and continuing concern for the saints at Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis; even though he apparently will remain with Paul while Tychicus and Onesimus deliver this letter to Colosse. Paul describes Epaphras as having zeal as he labors in fervent prayer that the saints in the distant local churches remain steadfast in their faith. Laodicea and Hierapolis are two cities nearby Colosse, both apparently having churches, but Paul does not mention Hierapolis again, as he does Laodicea.

Colossians 4:14-16

"14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you. 15 Greet the brothers who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church in his house. 16 And when this letter is read before you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you also read the letter of Laodicea."

COMMENTS: Luke and Demus are with Paul, and want to include their greetings to Christian brethren. Paul has sent, or is sending, a letter to Laodicea, which has not become part of scripture under the direction of the Holy Spirit, but he does instruct the saints at Colosse to exchange letters with those at Laodicea, so each will know the content of the other.

Colossians 4:17-18

"17 And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you fulfill it. 18 The salutation of Paul, by my own hand. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen."

COMMENTS: Archippus is a person mentioned only once here, and once in Philemon, in the Scriptures, so we can say only little about him and the concern Paul seems to have about him, because of the phrasing in the sentence. The Greek word translated as "take heed"can have the sense of to turn one's thoughts to, to consider, contemplate, to weigh or examine carefully. Paul says that Archippus has been engaged in ministry or service to the Lord, and he should fulfill that service. Paul closes his letter, indicating that he has written it in his own hand, rather than dictating to someone else. He wants his readers to remember his bonds, and from all else he has said, he intends that as encouragement. Then, by his amen, he says may it be so that grace {goodwill, loving-kindness, favor} be with you or among you.

--- Reflections in prayer ---

Lord, help me as I struggle against the flesh so that I will be steadfastly attentive and give unremitting care to prayer, and be vigilant with strict attention to thanksgiving for all your blessings. Remind me to pray for those of my acquaintance, who are serving you, that you will open a door allowing them to discourse and tell of the things not understood about Christ. Give me also your wisdom Lord, to tell others in a seasoned manner, about the grace I have experienced in Christ. It would be a joy to see another taste and see that the Lord is good, and that the one who trusts in him is truly blessed. Thank you Lord for those Christians you have brought across my path, and the encouragement and comfort we have exchanged because of your love. I need your Spirit to teach me to labor in fervent prayer for the steadfast faith of other saints, as the prayers of Epaphras were described by Paul. As Paul had instructed the Colossian saints to read other church letters, I need also to read other letters in the Bible to understand more of the Lord's counsel to his church. As Archippus was advised, may I contemplate and carefully examine my service to you Lord, as you continue to direct my life. May goodwill, loving-kindness, and favor be among and with saints everywhere. Amen.

Published 15 October 2004