Colossians
1-5 Masters, Prayer, Walk 6-9 Word, Comfort, Encouragement 10-18 Greetings
Masters, Prayer, Walk

1Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven. 2Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with [an attitude of] thanksgiving; 3praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; 4that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. 5Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.

V11Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.. The previous verses were addressed to the slaves. Now the word is for the masters. Paul has no intention to negotiate in order to set the slaves free, but calls upon the masters to pay them a reasonable salary. The emphasis is not on favors but on justice.

The payment must be just means that an equal pay should be given to all-in case of equal performance. This excludes favoritism. Fairness means the amount of reward must be based on a correct appreciation of the service provided. Every Christian employer must always ask what is appropriate. He must be conscious of the fact that he too has a Master in heaven Who will mete out to him according as he measured.

All previous instructions can be followed only by God’s children. Marital problems and family disputes must not arise in the families of believers. As Christian employees you should not seek the redress of grievances from a labor union. A Christian employer need not be pressurized to give his workers what they demand. In all these relationships a Christian must show that he is related to Christ. Thus he is in a position to unfold the hallmark of the new man in an old creation. Thus he walks worthy of the Lord (Col 1:1010so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please [Him] in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;). And is this not the reason why we have received this letter?

V22Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with [an attitude of] thanksgiving;. After addressing these groups in a special way the apostle now turns again to all Christians. He speaks to them about topics that apply to every member of God’s people, whether male or female, parent or child, slave or master.

He begins with prayer in which he encourages to persevere. To continue in prayer does not mean that you pray now and then or when you have a hard time. Anyone can call out to God when he is in distress. Whoever continues steadfastly in prayer remains in communion with God and is always conscious of his dependence on Him. You stay close to Him in prayer and trust in His willingness to listen to you.

When something goes wrong in your life you discover that it is very often because you did not persevere in prayer. Or you have indeed prayed but you were not watchful (Mt 26:4141Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”). This means that you ensure that you do not fall asleep during prayer time and do not allow your thoughts to wander in all directions. Your prayer would then no longer be effective and when you say ‘amen’ you do not know what you prayed for.

When you persevere in prayer, being vigilant, you are conscious that God is at work and that He will never leave you. Therefore your prayer can always be with thanksgiving. Prayer and thanksgiving go together. Thanksgiving is not just for answered prayers. You can thank the Lord because everything you speak to Him about is in good hands with Him.

V33praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned;. If you pray and are also watchful you will be totally devoted to the Lord’s work. This is what Paul means when he asks that people pray for him and for his co-workers. Exactly like Paul, anyone who serves God needs the prayer support of others. Paul asks the Colossians to pray for an open door. By this he means not the door of the prison, but an open door for the Word. Open doors are opportunities God gives to preach (1Cor 16:99for a wide door for effective [service] has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.; 2Cor 2:1212Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord,). How grateful the Colossians will be that the Word of God came to them (Col 1:5-65because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel6which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as [it has been doing] in you also since the day you heard [of it] and understood the grace of God in truth;). Surely the call for prayer will have found an echo in them.

Just think about what you have received because someone brought you the Word. This should encourage you to pray that others will hear this liberating and rich Word. You will pray that God gives His slaves opportunities to preach His Word.

People are not waiting to hear a sermon on the content of Paul’s preaching on this mystery. This is about Paul’s experience. Talking about the mystery brought him to imprisonment. This makes it clear that the mystery was not revealed just during his captivity. Some proclaim this error; but let it not mislead you. This is not the place to deal with it, although it is good for you to know about this. By now you have well understood from the letter to the Ephesians and this letter what the mystery is.

V44that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.. Paul lived and suffered to proclaim this mystery and asked for intercession. He asks for prayer not only for the free flow of the message but also for clarity and boldness. He did not want to draw attention to himself with a profound sermon which would go over their heads. He sought no human gratification. The Word of God is clear and simple. Let us pray that all those who minister through preaching the Word of God do it in plain and simple language which can be understood easily by all. Only then hearts and consciences can be reached and they will open themselves to the riches of the Word.

V5a5Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.. After encouraging them to pray and intercede, Paul now talks about the walk of the Colossians. It is important to know, that after what you ask for in prayer, should not be negated by your repulsive behavior. The unbelievers around you stand outside the circle of Christians. They are the ones who are called outsiders (1Cor 5:12-1312For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within [the church]?13But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.; 1Thes 4:1212so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.; 1Tim 3:77And he must have a good reputation with those outside [the church], so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.). They belong to the world and they are not connected to the Lord Jesus, but they are still keen observers.

Added to that, the world is hostile to Christians, so do not let the often seemingly friendly face of the world cheat you. In fact it so quickly takes offence at what you do, even though you do not have any intention to hurt. So make sure that you avoid any occasion that the unbeliever could use against you as a Christian. Wisdom is to fear the Lord and depart from evil (Pro 9:1010The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
; 14:1616A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil,
But a fool is arrogant and careless.
) and even from every form of evil (1Thes 5:2222abstain from every form of evil.).

V5b5Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.. In the first part of verse 55Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. you saw that your walk as a Christian in the world must be tempered with wisdom. Then you escape from all kinds of pitfalls and avoid wrong impressions. But that is not the only thing where we can see wisdom. If that were so, wisdom would cause a negative attitude. You escape from this by doing the second part of this verse.

There it is said that you can make positive use of wisdom by “making the most of the opportunity”. That means that you make the maximum profit out of every opportunity the Lord gives. This has to do with the highest market value of a thing; in this case the opportunity. This is in contrast to the fact that you fritter away, misapply and waste your time, thereby doing very little for God.

You come into contact with people every day. These are generally people who are preoccupied with their own affairs and evade serious issues of life. Such an attitude gives the Christian little opportunity to introduce them to the grace and truth of the gospel. He will however take the opportunities God gives to speak the gospel.

Sometimes an unbeliever reveals something of himself, and if we are good listeners, we will know by experience that God has spoken to the conscience in that unbeliever‘s life. That can happen by a certain event or by something that he had read. Satan can mislead a man but he cannot prevent that God speaks to his heart. It is nice to know that God wants to use you as His voice to speak to lost sinners.

You do not have wisdom yourself. You must ask for it (Jam 1:55But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.). In the context of this letter it is nice to see that you can find all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ (Col 2:33in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.). If you keep occupied with Him you will see what wisdom is and you will know how to apply it. Wisdom is already dealt with in connection with your handling of fellow believers (Col 3:1616Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms [and] hymns [and] spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.). Here your wisdom is directed with regard to the unbelievers. So you can see that God wants to equip you with all wisdom in all circumstances and for each contact.

Now read Colossians 4:1-5 again.

Reflection: What believers who bring the Word of God you are praying for? Do you pray also that they really bring the Word of God?


Word, Comfort, Encouragement

6Let your speech always be with grace, [as though] seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. 7As to all my affairs, Tychicus, [our] beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information. 8[For] I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts; 9and with him Onesimus, [our] faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your [number]. They will inform you about the whole situation here.

V66Let your speech always be with grace, [as though] seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.. Walk in wisdom is about your behavior. “Let your speech always be with grace, [as though] seasoned with salt”, is about what you speak. The kind of words and the content of your speech should express that you yourself have received grace. The grace in you will resonate with your words. Your listeners will hear an invitation to accept the grace in order to be among those who are inside, and no longer to those who are outside.

Full of grace means that your speech is friendly and gentle. It must be seasoned with salt. This guards you from babbling, and being irritating with your popular speech expressions to attract those who are outside. This takes you down to the level of the world but it will not attract unbelievers. They will regard you as one of their own, rather than your words inviting them to say good-bye to the world and become a Christian.

Salt is an agent that counteracts decay. Where salt is, there is no decomposition. This is what your words should be. On the one side your words must be an invitation in an expression of grace and on the other side they must be inaccessible to the corruption of the world.

Your words can be seen here as a response to what others say and do. This is what is referred to by the term answer. The point is not to react to everything. Do not think that you are obliged to give your opinion on everything. Silence can be a very wise answer. Also, you do not have the right answer for all things. Sometimes it is very wise to say that you do not know the answer for something. This is also an answer. Often it is very wise to say that you do not have the right words for a particular situation because you have not gone through similar situations.

Therefore it is not said here ‘that you will know what you should respond’, but how. This means a proper language by which the questioner gets the answer (1Pet 3:1515but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always [being] ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;). Everyone is different; likewise the right answer is different for everyone. No pattern answer can be used for all people in all circumstances (1Cor 9:2222To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.).

V77As to all my affairs, Tychicus, [our] beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information.. After this general admonition Paul begins the final words of his letter. They contain some information about his own circumstances, and then he refers to certain individuals by name. He wants to let them know how he was doing and would also like to know how they were doing. Tychicus carries Paul’s wishes. What he says of Tychicus should be able to be said of every believer.

“Beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord” are titles more valuable than all sorts of theological and scientific titles people can give or get. Those titles say something about someone’s intellect but they say nothing about one’s love, spiritual attitude, willingness to serve or ability.

V88[For] I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts;. The fact that these titles are used in conjunction “in the Lord” means that Tychicus shows the Lord Jesus in his dealings with the fellow believers. The Colossians must acknowledge this to their joy when he goes to them. He will tell them of the circumstances of Paul and Timothy. Paul’s intention is not to evoke more of their compassion. He shares information not for his own sake but for the benefit of the Colossians. They in fact were worried about Paul. But now the information passed on by Tychicus will relieve them of their anxiety and they will be encouraged.

V99and with him Onesimus, [our] faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your [number]. They will inform you about the whole situation here.. One more person will go with Tychicus and that is Onesimus. Thus the information about Paul’s situation will remove all anxieties and encourage them. Onesimus was also a Colossian (“one of your [number]”). Paul’s warm recommendation of this runaway slave (see the letter to Philemon) shows his faith in him. At the same time the apostle thought that he would be helpful to the Colossians.

Onesimus by the way must be on his way back to Philemon carrying Paul’s letter to him. However Paul does not mention anything about it here. The sin of Onesimus is a private matter between him and Philemon. Paul knows how to separate things that should be handled differently.

Onesimus was converted through the ministry of Paul during his imprisonment. He became his son while he was in chains (Phlm 1:1010I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment,). He therefore had first-hand knowledge of Paul’s circumstances. With his testimony, therefore, he could speak for Tychicus when he shared the information. Thus he is appointed directly for the service of the Lord.

Now read Colossians 4:6-9 again.

Reflection: How can you be a witness in accordance with this passage?


Greetings

10Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas’s cousin Mark (about whom you receivedinstructions; if he comes to you, welcome him); 11and [also] Jesus who is called Justus; these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision, and they have proved to be an encouragement to me. 12Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you maystandperfect andfully assured in all the will of God. 13For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and [also] Demas. 15Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house. 16When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter [that is coming] from Laodicea. 17Say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” 18I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my imprisonment. Grace be with you.

Paul asked Tychicus to let the Colossians know how he was doing. Now he greets the Colossians on behalf of the believers who asked to him to do so. There are six in total. Three of them are of Jewish descent (“of the circumcision”) and the other three are non-Jewish. The conveying of greetings shows that these brothers are connected to the Colossians, just as Paul is, and that they also shared his concern for them. That Paul conveys their greetings is proof that they supported his work. Greetings therefore are much more than just a formality. Whoever sends greetings shows that there is a connection between him and the ones to whom he sends the greetings. This also shows the appreciation of the connection.

V1010Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas’s cousin Mark (about whom you receivedinstructions; if he comes to you, welcome him);. Paul appreciates each servant who worked with him. He calls Aristarchus “my fellow prisoner”. He was with Paul on the ship that brought him as a prisoner to Rome (Acts 27:22And embarking in an Adramyttian ship, which was about to sail to the regions along the coast of Asia, we put out to sea accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica.). It was a great comfort for Paul to have this man as his companion in his difficult circumstances (verse 1111and [also] Jesus who is called Justus; these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision, and they have proved to be an encouragement to me.). It is really a comfort when someone comes to you when you are in trouble, just to be with you.

Paul also has a special relationship with Mark. This Mark is “Barnabas’s cousin”. Paul does not say this simply in pretence. Mark, in fact, was once the cause of separation between Paul and Barnabas. When you read the passages wherever Mark appears in the Acts, you can reconstruct the story (Acts 12:12,2512And when he realized [this], he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.25And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, taking along with [them] John, who was also called Mark.; 13:1313Now Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia; but John left them and returned to Jerusalem.; 15:37-3937Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also.38But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.39And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.).

Paul was not willing to take Mark on the journey he wanted to make with Barnabas. Mark travelled with him on a previous occasion, but gave up at a certain point. Sometimes fellow workers can abandon us. Barnabas felt the earlier failure of Mark was no reason to leave him behind this time. Mark was his nephew and that could possibly be the reason why Barnabas chose him.

In the meantime a change must have taken place in Mark, perhaps because of the pastoral care of Barnabas. Now Paul regarded Mark helpful in his ministry (2Tim 4:1111Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.). He already informed the Colossians about Mark and instructed them to accept him.

V1111and [also] Jesus who is called Justus; these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision, and they have proved to be an encouragement to me.. In all the letters of Paul, it is only here that we come across the name Jesus, Justus. Jesus was a common name in those days. Even today this name is common in some countries. People rather called him Justus as he and his fellow Christians probably thought that it was not right to have the same name as the Son of God.

It is quite possible that these three men, before they came to faith in the Lord Jesus, had a different expectation of the kingdom of God. If they were devout Jews they would have expected that the Messiah established His kingdom in glory. Now after their conversion they would have understood that the kingdom of God was not yet publicly visible, and what the kingdom in its present form meant (Rom 14:1717for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.). Their fellowship for the kingdom of God meant consolation (a minimization of pain which is the literal meaning of the Greek word) for Paul.

V1212Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you maystandperfect andfully assured in all the will of God.. Epaphras also greets the Colossians. Paul calls Epaphras “a bondslave of Jesus Christ”, a term he usually used only for himself and Timothy. This tells us something about the spiritual attitude of this faithful servant. He is a preacher of the Word (Col 1:77just as you learned [it] from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf,), but Paul also knows him as a praying man and knows how this man prays. Paul must have heard more often how insistently Epaphras brought his prayer before the throne of grace. Whenever he heard Epaphras pray he sensed a struggle, a wrestling, in that prayer. Paul is so impressed that he mentions it to the Colossians.

Epaphras prayed for three things. The first one is that they “may stand”. This letter teaches that only if they stand firm in the truth they can face any kind of false teaching. Further he prayed that they might be “perfect” which again means spiritual maturity. Then they should walk in the truth they had come to know. Finally they should be “fully assured in all the will of God” showing at the same time how foolish and worthless are the promises of false teachers. Paul heard these elements in his prayers.

V1313For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis.. To all his appreciation for Epaphras Paul adds a further testimony. He says: “I testify for him.” Even if the Colossians were not aware of it Paul knew about all the hard work that Epaphras took upon himself. The words “deep concern” denote a work one does with dedication and with all his strength. Besides the believers in Colossae, Epaphras also had the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis close to his heart.

V1414Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and [also] Demas.. The Colossians also received greetings from Luke. The additional word “beloved physician” refers to the loving medical care Paul received from him. The Lord had not taken away the thorn from his flesh (2Cor 12:7-97Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!8Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.9And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.). However God gave him Luke who could ease his pain and who remained with him till the end (2Tim 4:1111Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.). This is also a caution that you should not be unduly influenced by all the extravagant claims made with respect to prayer healing.

Demas closes the list. They receive greetings from him also. Here Paul mentions only his name. In the letter to Philemon he is placed in the band of fellow workers (Phlm 1:23-2423Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you,24[as do] Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.). Unfortunately Demas later swapped the companionship of Paul for the world (2Tim 4:1010for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens [has gone] to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.).

V1515Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house.. Then Paul asks the Colossians to relay his greetings to the “brethren who are in Laodicea”. Even the believers who gather as a church in the house of Nympha were greeted. As the church in Laodicea had already received the greetings, it is not inconceivable that this church is the house of Nympha is that of Hierapolis (verse 1313For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis.). Neither of these places received any letter from Paul, or else he would not have asked the Colossians to greet them. His greetings to them prove that he has not forgotten them. Moreover we find here a proof of the fellowship that existed between these two churches which were so close together.

V1616When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter [that is coming] from Laodicea.. Another proof of the connection that existed between these two local churches is the reason for the instruction of Paul to have this letter to the Colossians also read in the church in Laodicea. The Colossians also should read another letter that Paul had written, which was in Laodicea (this letter could be the letter to the Ephesians circulating among all the churches and it was now in Laodicea). Paul wrote more letters than the ones we have in the Bible. Anyway, by the reading of these various letters, in faith they could edify each other and help them enjoy with one another the spiritual benefits graciously given to them.

V1717Say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”. Paul addressed the entire church in Colossae, but he did not forget the individual. The church receives the instruction to motivate Archippus not to neglect the ministry which he had received in the Lord, but to fulfill it (2Tim 4:55But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.). With the words “take heed to” Paul points to the dangers the church would face if the brother is negligent to the responsibilities given him by the Lord. If that happens, then that is to the detriment of the whole church. Therefore all those who form the church should motivate one another to perform the tasks entrusted to them.

This fully applies to you in every respect. You have also received a ministry; something that you must do for the Lord. To do something for the Lord also means that you should do something for your fellow believers or to take the gospel to the unbelievers. “In the Lord” means that it is about your walk with the Lord and about the recognition of His authority in your service. A good start is not necessarily a good end. “Fulfill” means that you bring your work to completion and do not give up halfway.

V1818I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my imprisonment. Grace be with you.. Paul ends with his own greeting. He adds a request for himself and closes with a wish for the Colossians. He writes his greeting with his own hand. He seems to have dictated this letter himself (Rom 16:2222I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord.). With this handwritten greeting, the apostle confirms that the letter is really from him (2Thes 3:1717I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write.; 1Cor 16:2121The greeting is in my own hand – Paul.).

By his request to remember his chains he not only expresses that he is in need of their intercession, but it is also an additional motivation to obey and to listen to what he has written about – the causes of his imprisonment. If they had to suffer for the confession of the truth, his example would serve to encourage them. He suffered for the same cause. He wishes them grace to live according to the content of this letter. This wish applies to you also.

Now read Colossians 4:10-18 again.

Reflection: Examine what you can learn from the people mentioned here and what you can apply to your life of faith.