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Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Colossians 4

Dunagan's Commentary on the BibleDunagan's Commentary

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I. Further Ramifications Of The New Life: 4:1-6

A. New Attitude For Masters: 4:1

B. Life Of Attentive Prayer: 4:2-3

C. Prayin For Opportunities To Evangelize: 4:3-4

D. Wise Conduct And Speech Toward Non-Christians: 4:5-6


Paul now turns to the obligations that Masters have toward their servants. Note that God doesn't condemn or attack this social and economic institution, rather, Christianity is to be applied by both parties in it. These verses infer: (1) Problems between labor and management are usually due to wrong attitudes and sin on both sides. God is neither pro-labor/union or pro-management. God is pro-living a godly life, regardless of which side you may be on. Also note that no spiritual or moral advantage is found on either side. Too many assume that God is always on the side of the "little guy" or the underdog. Rather, God is always on the side of the righteous man! ( Rom_1:17 )


I. Closing Matters: 4:7-18

A. His Praise For The Coming Messengers: 4:7-9

B. Greetings From Jewish Christians: 4:10-11

C. Greetings From Gentile Christians: 4:12-14

D. Greetings To Christians In Laodicea: 4:15

E. Exhortation Concerning Two Letters: 4:16

F. Exhortation Addressed to Archippus: 4:17

G. Paul's Own Personal Greeting: 4:18


'The mere mention of these names in the various epistles of Paul adds to his writings a tone of reality and an element of deep human interest. The letters are made to be not mere theological essays or moral homilies, but vital messages to living men illustrated and embodied in actual life. In no portion of his letters, excepting possibly the last chapter of the epistle to the Romans, does Paul give a more fascinating list of his companions than in the closing, or "personal", section of this epistle to the Colossians.' (Erdman p. 111)

'The personal references of this section, though slight and cursory are of peculiar value, bearing themselves the strongest marks of genuineness, and decisively attesting the Pauline authorship of the Epistle.' (P.P. Comm. p. 211)

Verse 1

Col_4:1 Masters, render unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.

'MASTERS' -Note that God is fair. God didn't command the Master who was a Christian, to let all his slaves go free. God realized that this man had to earn a living. God didn't put him at an unfair disadvantage in the marketplace. God understood First Century economics. Thus Christianity doesn't inherently prevent anyone from making a profit or being successful in business.

'RENDER' -'deal' (Con); 'do' (TCNT) 'If slaves like Onesimus have their duties, so do masters like Philemon; they must treat their slaves fairly and justly.' (Bruce p. 171)

'THAT WHICH IS JUST AND EQUAL' -'just and equitable treatment' (Knox); 'what is right and fair' (TCNT); 'fair and square' (Hendriksen p. 176)

'JUST' -1342. dikaios dik'-ah-yos; from 1349; equitable (in character or act); by implication, innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively): -just, meet, right(-eous).

'FAIR' -2471. isotes ee-sot'-ace; likeness (in condition or proportion); by implication, equity: -equal(-ity).

Points to Note:

1. God doesn't define the particulars of "just" and "fair", which infers that men already know such things. We aren't inherently depraved. We can apply general principles in specific situations. A fair wage, salary, benefits, etc...can be determined.

2. This would also infer that harsh or cruel treatment is uncalled for. 'The master should regulate his treatment of his slave not by caprice, but by equity.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 544)

3. This statement also infers that the slave isn't just a piece of property or a tool. The slave is a human being, your slave is your neighbor, and for many of these masters, your brother or sister in Christ.

4. We should all stand amazed that the various individuals and groups which advocate humane treatment of other human beings and yet which don't believe in God. Such is hypocrisy and inconsistency. In a no-God universe, in a universe void of absolute truth, it is irrelevant how we treat other people.

5. Paul may not be spending that much time or space in talking to Masters, possibly because the letter to Philemon, which this congregation would have access to, addressed the some of those issues relating to the master, in more detail.

6. We must remember that the master was commanded to treat all his servants in this manner, Christian and non-Christian. Seeing that the Christian slave, was still to serve diligently, even a non-Christian master ( 1Pe_2:18 ); we must logically include that the Christian master was to render fairness to his non-Christian servants.


Points to Note:

1. God gives both slaves and masters some incentive for doing the right thing. God is watching both groups (3:24-25). He is impartial.

2. This is a wholesome reminder. 'Masters, remember, you have a Master. And from that Master you hope to receive fairness, compassion and mercy. So treat your slaves in the way that you wish to be treated.' Here we have an application of the Golden Rule ( Mat_7:12 ).

3. 'All the kindness, all the sympathy, all the forbearance which they have received from Christ they are to show toward those whose obedience and loyalty they expect.' (Erdman p. 106)

4. This should also remind people who are so eager to "be the boss". That being the boss brings with it great responsibility. God holds people accountable for the abuse of power or the mistreatment of others. Barclay notes, 'No master can say (or employer), "This is my business and I will do what I like with it". He must say, "This is God's business. He has put me in charge of it. I am responsible to him."' (p. 165)

5. Paul lays down a very important truth here. If we would just remember that one day we will stand before the Lord Himself in judgement ( 2Co_5:10 ); and that we aren't perfect. We would treat our fellowmen and especially our brethren in a manner in which we desire to be treated, i.e. fairly, with understanding, mercy and compassion. Mat_18:22-35 needs to be read slowly and often.

As we close this section, Eadie points out that Christianity introduced three basic truths which in the end killed the institution of slavery in the Empire. (1) It denied the concept that slaves are of an inferior caste, either born so, are as Homer believed from mental imbecility. God viewed the slave as just as smart, just as capable of living a holy life, just as important and just as accountable as his master. (2) Christianity introduced the truth of "natural rights". The founders of this country called them inalienable rights, i.e. rights granted to every human being by the Creator himself. (3) That in relation to God, all men, bond or free have equal access. 'For the master and slave were alike the free servants of a common Lord in heaven.' (Eadie p. 266)

Sometimes we forget that slavery can always happen again. Anytime a society forgets the above truths, we are headed in that direction.


Verse 2

Col_4:2 Continue stedfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving;

'CONTINUE STEDFASTLY IN' -'Devote yourselves to' (NASV); 'Persevere in' (Con); 'Be earnest' (Wey). (See Act_2:42 ; Rom_12:12 ; 1Th_5:17 ). Jesus often mentioned the importance of being diligent in prayer ( Luk_18:1-8 ; Luk_11:5-10 ).

Eadie notes, 'They were never to suppose that prayer was needless, either because their desires had been gratified, or God had bestowed upon them all His gifts...They were to pray and wait, not to be discouraged, but still to hold on..' (p. 267)

Commands like this ( Eph_6:18 ); infer that there will always exist great needs in the local congregation, among Christians at large or in our own lives that need to be prayed for. There is always something that is pressing that needs our prayers.

'WATCHING THEREIN' -'keeping alert in it' (NASV); 'and wide awake about it' (Gspd); 'be both alert and thankful as you pray' (Phi); 'with mind awake and thankful heart' (NEB); 'Give your whole mind to it' (TCNT).

Points to Note:

1. 'May mean that they are to watch against growing weary so that the prayer becomes mechanical' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 544)

2. 'This admonition to remain fully awake in prayer reminds one of Mat_26:41 ; Mar_14:38 ; Luk_22:40 ; Luk_22:46 ...What the apostle has in mind is that, while continuing in prayer, the worshipper shall be alive to such matters as : a. his own needs and those of the family, church, country, world ( 1Ti_2:1-2 ). b. the dangers that threaten the Christian community. c. the blessing received and promised. and (last but not least) d. the will of God.' (Hendriksen p. 179)

3. 'In the very act of prayer they must be on their guard against wandering thoughts. They must arose themselves, and beware of indifference and languor. They must concentrate their minds, so that prayer becomes a reality and not an empty form.' (Erdman p. 107) ( Mat_6:7 ; Ecc_5:1 )

4. Note that God gives us assistance to make our communion with Him meaningful, purposeful, successful and enjoyable. Spiritual alertness in prayer happens when we: (a) Realize that we are actually approaching the very throne of God ( Heb_4:16 ). (b) That God actually listens and acts upon our requests ( Jam_5:16-17 ). (c) That the fate of whole nations can be changed by sincere prayer (The book of Jonah). (c) When we are aware of your own spiritual needs and the needs of others. (d) When we realize how fragile human relationships and the unity among God's people can be at times. (e) When we grasp the battle that we are engaged in ( Eph_6:18 ). (f) And that the Lord may come at any time ( 1Th_5:6 ).

'WITH THANKSGIVING' -( 1Th_5:18 ).

Points to Note:

1. The spirit that is alert and in tune with pressing needs, is also the thankful or grateful spirit. Such a person realizes and sees: (a) How much worse things could be. (b) The close calls that Christians and the local congregation have experienced. (c) The many times that God has answered our prayers. (d) In view of the way we have treated each other at times, the undeserving nature of having an audience with God in the first place.

2. This reminds us, that we when approach God, even when we have a pressing need or concern, always remember to thank Him!

3. 'It should be borne in mind that the man who issues this directive is a prisoner. However, this prisoner is able to thank God even for his chains ( Php_1:12-14 ).' (Hendriksen p. 180)

4. The Christian life cannot be lived successfully, if one lacks gratitude ( Eph_5:20 ; Eph_6:18 ; Php_4:6 ).


Verse 3

Col_4:3 withal praying for us also, that God may open unto us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds;

'WITHAL PRAYING FOR US ALSO' -'praying at the same time' (NASV)

Points to Note:

1. Paul believed in prayer! Paul even believed that the prayers offered by "ordinary" Christians (i.e. those who weren't apostles or prophets) were just as effective as his own.

2. Here we find another "mutual" obligation in this section. Paul, Timothy and Epaphras had been praying for the Colossians (1:9). Now, Paul requests that they pray for him and his co-workers. At times people request that other members pray for them, like Paul here did. But we must remember, I have an obligation to pray for others too! When was the last time that I offered a prayer on behalf of someone besides myself?

3. Godly people in the past often requested that others pray for them ( Dan_2:18 ; Est_4:6 ; Eph_6:18-20 ).

'THAT GOD MAY OPEN UNTO US A DOOR FOR THE WORD' -'a door for preaching' (Wey).

Points to Note:

1. Note what Paul didn't request, a speedy release from prison, a quick trial, some ease and personal comfort, a little rest and relaxation. Those things were important, but not as important as "the work", i.e. the spread of the gospel.

2. Paul believed that God could and did open up opportunities for preaching ( Rev_3:8 ; 1 Corinthians, 16:9 ; 2Co_2:12 ). Through His Providence, God can put us into contact with the soul that is looking for the truth.

3. Members at times fret about trying to make contacts, i.e. how do you find people who are interested in truth? We think of all sorts of strategies to try to reach people, which is fine. But before we do all that, did we take the time to persistently and fervently pray for a door? And, more importantly. Are we well-versed enough, serious enough and zealous enough to walk through that door?

'TO SPEAK THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST' -i.e. the gospel message (1:26-28).


Points to Note:

1. Paul wasn't about to let difficult circumstances keep him from talking to others about Christ. Even though he was in prison or under house arrest ( Act_28:30-31 ); he knew that God could open up opportunities in any situation. Therefore, let no one say, 'But this is a hard work, or a hard area, or people here aren't interested in the truth.'

2. Already such doors had opened up ( Php_1:12-14 ), not to mention Onesimus who had simply fallen into Paul's lap ( Phm_1:10 ). But Paul was never content with the number of people thus far saved, far more were still lost!

3. I like what Barclay said, 'When we pray for ourselves and for others, we should not ask release from any task, but rather strength to complete the task which has been given to us.' (p. 167)

4. Hendriksen notes, 'Now the apostle did not intend to say: Pray that by my release from imprisonment I may again be able to proclaim the message..No, he wanted that door right here and now!' (p. 180)

5. Imprisonment for the cause of Christ, for preaching to Jews and Gentiles without making an distinction, had not decreased Paul's love for the gospel message. Suffering hadn't taken the wind out of Paul's sails. This demonstrated to others, that Christianity wasn't a fair weather religion.

Verse 4

Col_4:4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

'THAT' -A specific request concerning such preaching. Paul gets right down to the heart of the matter, this is something that concerned him. In our prayers, we need to be specific also.

'I MAY MAKE IT MANIFEST' -5319. phaneroo fan-er-o'-o; from 5318; to render apparent (literally or figuratively): -appear, manifestly declare, (make) manifest (forth), shew (self).

-'declare it openly' (Con). Compare with "speak boldly" in Eph_6:20 .

Points to Note:

1. It may seem strange than an inspired man is praying that he would preach the word in the proper way, i.e. freely, fearlessly, boldly, and without compromise. And yet other passages infer that inspiration didn't override human freewill, i.e. the inspired man could cringe, he could refuse to use the gift that God had given him ( 1Co_14:32 ; 2Ti_1:7-8 ).

2. 'When a good message is proclaimed in a bad way it can do more harm than good.' (Hendriksen p. 181)

3. Carefully note, that the truth needs to be presented in the proper spirit ( 2Ti_2:24 ; Eph_4:15 ).

4. Paul may also be thinking of when he appears before Caesar. Eadie notes, 'it might be surmised that what Paul had suffered for the gospel had lessened his love for it, or modified his views of that office which he held. And may we not suppose that the apostle wished the world to understand, that if he were liberated, there would be no abatement of his zeal, no subduedness of tone in his speech, no mutilation of his message, and no accommodation of it so as to avoid a recurrence of the penalty, but all his old fervor and power...' (p. 272)


Points to Note:

1. The word "ought" suggests moral obligation. The very nature of the gospel message deserves, morally demands a proper presentation. The gospel deserves a public and open proclamation. The gospel deserves to be preached without fear, without embarrassment, without being toned down, or apologized for ( Rom_1:16 ).

2. And the fact that such a message has resulted in our salvation ( Jam_1:21 ; 1Pe_1:23 ), demands that we present it in the exact form that it came to us, i.e. without any additions or subtractions ( Act_20:27 ).

3. We must realize that the survival and spread of this message is more important than our own survival or comfort.

4. Hendriksen notes, 'he probably had in mind some or all of the following particulars: a. Pray that I may speak clearly ("that I may make it clear"). b. boldly, that is, without fear or restraint ("telling all". c. Yet also graciously (see the context, Col_4:6 a).' (pp. 181-182)

Verse 5

Col_4:5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

'WALK IN WISDOM' -'Conduct yourselves with wisdom' (NASV); 'Show tact in your behaviour' (TCNT); 'Be prudent' (Knox). Eph_5:15 .

'TOWARD THEM THAT ARE WITHOUT' -i.e. non-Christians.

Points to Note:

1. The connection between this verse and the previous statements is that our "conduct" can help open up an opportunity for teaching or it can equally shut down any chance of teaching the lost ( Tit_2:5 ).

2. Barclay notes, that this infers that every Christian is a 'missionary"..'He must never give the impression of superiority and of censorious criticism...On the Christian there is laid the great responsibility of showing men Christ in his daily life.' ( Mat_5:16 ) (p. 167)

3. The cause of Christ can't afford members who argue, 'But this is just the way that I am...I'm caustic or offensive just by nature.' We must get it into our heads that we are representing Jesus Christ to lost men and women ( 1Co_11:1 ).

4. 'In wisdom' suggests a Christianity that is balanced, or as Eadie notes, 'they are also to exhibit, at the same time, not only the purity of the gospel, but its amiability, its strictness of principle in union with its loveliness of temper, its generosity as well as its rectitude, and its charity not less than its devoutness and zeal..' (p. 274) Which simply means that we cannot afford to present a one-sided or unbalanced gospel.

5. Bruce reminds us, 'It remains true that the reputation of the gospel is bound up with the behavior of those who claim to have experienced its saving power. People who do not read the Bible for themselves or listen to the preaching of the word of God can see the lives of those who do, and can form their judgement accordingly.' (p. 174)

6. That last observation is very important. Many people are not going to invest the time to read and understand the Bible, unless they see biblical truths concretely applied in someone's life. They first need to see that such a life can be lived! That what the gospel claims is credible.

7. In addition, always remember that many people have been told lies and have been given misinformation about the Bible or Christianity. Consistent and balanced applied Christianity can go a long way in convincing someone that they need to give this another look.

8. This verse also infers that the non-Christian is "without", i.e. they aren't saved. A line between lost and saved does exist! ( Mar_16:16 ; 2Th_1:8-9 )

'REDEEMING' -1805. exagorazo ex-ag-or-ad'-zo; from 1537 and 59; to buy up, i.e. ransom; figuratively, to rescue from loss (improve opportunity): -redeem.

-'buying up the opportunity' (Vincent p. 510), 'the preposition..denotes an extensive activity, a buying which exhausts the possibilities available.' (O'Brien p. 241)

'THE TIME' -'implies a critical epoch, a special opportunity, which may soon pass: "grasp it", says the apostle; "buy it up while it lasts" (Bruce p. 174) ( Eph_5:16 )

Points to Note:

1. 'The sense then would be "Do not just sit there and wait for opportunity to fall into your lap, but go after it...Buy up the entire stock of opportunity."' (Hendriksen p. 183)

2. Part of "walking in wisdom" includes the willingness to be on the outlook for opportunities to teach and convert. 'Every season for exercising such wisdom is to be eagerly improved, or not opportunity for its display is to be trifled with or lost.' (Eadie p. 274)

3. This verse infers: (1) Every Christian is given opportunities ( Gal_6:10 ), i.e. they surround us. (2) We must cooperate with such, i.e. be willing to adjust or lives or schedules to take advantage of them. (3) They won't last forever.

Verse 6

Col_4:6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one.

'LET' -Which infers we have complete control over this.

'YOUR SPEECH' -Hence: (a) What we say in the presence of non-Christians is just as important as how we may act ( Mat_12:36-37 ). (b) God takes our speech very seriously ( Jam_1:26 ). (c) An incredible amount of good or harm can be done with the tongue ( Jam_3:5 ; Pro_18:21 'Death and life are in the power of the tongue.')

'BE ALWAYS' -We can't afford to "let up" in what comes out of our mouths. This also would suggest, in all places and at all times.

'Note "always", that is, both in addressing a group or in talking to the neighbor, both when conversing with an equal or when replying to someone in authority, to rich and poor alike...When gracious speech becomes their habit they will not use improper language when suddenly confronted with a difficult situation...' (Hendriksen p. 183)

'It is easy to be affable and gracious on certain occasions, but to speak with sweetness and gentleness when opposed or misrepresented or wronged is a severe test of character..' (Erdman p. 109)

'WITH GRACE' -5485. charis khar'-ece; from 5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): -acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace(-ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank(-s, -worthy).

-'with winsomeness' (Wms); 'Always put your message attractively' (Gspd); 'Let your conversation be always gracious' (NEB)

Hence our speech is to be free from: (1) Being absorbed in ourselves. (2) Vindictiveness and bitterness ( Eph_4:31 ). Hendriksen notes that the best description of gracious speech, is given by Paul himself, 'speaking the truth in love' ( Eph_4:15 ).


Points to Note:

1. Carefully note that God is helping us not to misunderstand what He is saying here. The phrase "seasoned with salt", informs us that "with grace" doesn't merely mean "witty or clever speech", or speech which is nothing more than charm or sentimentality. Our speech is to have some real substance to it.

2. Barclay notes, 'it is all too true that Christianity in the minds of many is connected with a kind of sanctimonious dullness and an outlook in which laughter is almost a heresy...The Christian must commend his message with the charm and the wit which were in Jesus himself.' (p. 168)

3. 'with an edge of liveliness' (Knox); 'Always put your message attractively, and yet pointedly ' (Gspd); 'Speak pleasantly to them, but never sentimentally' (Phi).

4. 'Both in Greek and Latin authors, "salt" was used to express the pungency and wittiness of speech.' (Vincent p. 510) The applications would be: (1) Our speech is to be free from corrupt language or obscenity (salt is a preservative) ( Eph_4:29 ; Eph_5:4 ). (2) Our speech is to have a wholesome influence, rather than being the type of language that is just about one step away from sin. (3) When we talk about God, Jesus Christ, The Church, our salvation, the Bible, etc...Our speech should be attractive, winning, positive, uplifting, enthusiastic, i.e. speech that is compelling, that the hearer desires another taste. Speech that is hard not to listen to. (4) Speech that gets the point across, perfectly clear.

5. Hendriksen comments, 'Speech flavored with salt is, accordingly, not empty or insipid, but thought-provoking and worth-while . It is not a waste of time...' (p. 184)

'THAT' -This is the aim and goal of such speech. This is the reason we need to practice and habitually work on using language that is winning, solid, gracious, etc...

'YE' -Every Christian needs to practice these things, because every Christian has contact with non-Christians.

'MAY KNOW HOW YE OUGHT TO ANSWER EACH ONE' -'understanding how to give to every man a fitting answer' (Con); 'learn how to answer any question put to you' (Mof); 'study how best to talk to each person you meet' (NEB).

Points to Note:

1. The same type of thought is presented in 1Pe_3:15 . God expects Christians to be prepared to field the various questions that they are confronted with, in a winning and attractive way. He doesn't want His people to look like fools, or mindless robots.

2. Carefully note that questions are asked of the Christian from different motives (ignorance, pride, contempt, scorn, confusion, sincerity)...We face all sorts of people, from various backgrounds in our daily lives. Eadie notes, 'But each was to be answered as was becoming--according to the contents, the spirit, and the object of his question--answered so that he might at once receive enlightenment and impression, be charmed out of his hostility, reasoned out of his misunderstanding, guided out of his difficulty, awakened out of his indifference, and won over to the new religion under the solemn persuasion that it was foolish to trifle any longer with Christianity, and dangerous any more to oppose the claims of a Divine revelation..' (p. 278)

3. The Colossians were being confronted with an array of false teachings, ranging from intellectually sounding human philosophy, to Judaizing teachers, to dogmatic ascetics. In dealing with followers, or those being duped by each group, the Colossians needed to have their wits about them.

4. Some regard, needs to be taken into consideration concerning the background or situation your inquirer is coming from.

5. This should remind us that just because we are Christians doesn't mean that God is going to fight all our battles for us. We need to be prepared, and God isn't going to save the bacon of the Christian who goes into a study completely unprepared or who carelessly tries to field a question "from the hip". Christians who don't do their research or get their facts right, will get whipped in a debate!

Verse 7

Col_4:7 All my affairs shall Tychicus make known unto you, the beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord:

'ALL MY AFFAIRS SHALL TYCHICUS MAKE KNOWN UNTO YOU' -'All that concerns me' (Con); 'You will hear how things go with me'; 'all about my present circumstances' (Phi). ( Eph_6:21 )

Points to Note:

1. All the things relating to Paul's personal circumstances are left out of the Epistle. The details of Paul's daily life, although, intensely interesting to Christians who loved him, are not on a par with Divine truth. Such details are left to word of mouth.

2. This reveals that what we do have in the Bible, is intensely important. This also reveals that God has purposely limited the Bible to the most vital of matters, hence giving the reader the ability to concentrate upon issues that affect their soul. Be thankful that Biblical truth wasn't mingled throughout a much larger volume or volumes!

3. This also infers that the Bible isn't a collection of truth and myth or truth and hearsay.

'TYCHICUS' -5190. Tuchikos too-khee-kos'; from a derivative of 5177; fortuitous, i.e. fortunate; Tychicus, a Christian: -Tychicus.

-(TIKE ih kuhs). He was a Christian from the Roman Province of Asia ( Act_20:4 ). He was one of the messengers from the churches in bringing funds to the poor saints in Jerusalem (A.D. 58). He is now with Paul in Rome. He will deliver three letters back to the Roman Province of Asia, the Ephesian letter ( Eph_6:21-22 ); the Colossian letter and the letter to Philemon.

Following Paul's first imprisonment, Tychicus will again meet up with Paul ( Tit_3:12 ); and will relieve Timothy in Ephesus ( 2Ti_4:12 ).

'THE BELOVED BROTHER' -'our much-loved brother' (Wey).

Points to Note:

1. Paul valued the Christians who assisted him. He didn't take these associations for granted. In view of the fact that few are on the narrow road ( Mat_7:13-14 ); we need to really appreciate other Christians, for they aren't a dime a dozen.

2. Love for each other, is to be a mark of the true Church ( Joh_13:34-35 ; 1Pe_1:22 ).

3. 'With them he belonged to the most exalted and honorable fraternity in all the world, the brotherhood of believers.' (Erdman p. 112) This point needs to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, some Christians attempt to find "fellowship" in a secular organization. Something is wrong if the Christian feels they can't find the "brotherhood" they are looking for in the Church. For no higher "brotherhood" could ever exist than that found in the family of God! ( 1Ti_3:15 )

'AND FAITHFUL' -4103. pistos pis-tos'; from 3982; objectively, trustworthy; subjectively, trustful: -believe(-ing, -r), faithful(-ly), sure, true.

-'trusty assistant' (Wey).

Points to Note:

1. Dependability, reliability is a greatly needed quality in the Church ( 2Ti_2:2 ; 1Co_4:2 ). The eternal well-being of people is at stake ( 1Ti_4:16 ). We need people who will follow through on contacting visitors, teaching new converts, and who will also accurately pass on to our children the true word of God.

2. This man wasn't just delivering mail, he was entrusted with delivering God's inspired Word, i.e. Scripture. 'It was a long and perilous journey. Tychicus must cross Italy to the Adriatic and Greece, must sail the Aegean Sea to Miletus, and then penetrate the steep valley of the Lycus to Laodicea and Colossae.' (Erdman p. 112)

'MINISTER' -i.e. servant.

Points to Note:

1. We often forget, that in the end we are servants of God. Our purpose in life isn't to do our own will, but the will of Him who saved us ( Gal_2:20 ). Unfortunately, too many religious people want to be God's advisors, or, to have God be their servant, 'i.e. I expect you (God) to meet my every need and be at my beckon call 24 hours a day.'

2. I am impressed with the lack of jealously and envy among these men. Tychicus and the other men mentioned in this section, weren't envious of Paul's apostolic position. They gladly accepted the "niche" or "role" given them. They didn't try to gain personal glory. They didn't tell Paul, 'You've had your glory, now is it our turn.' And they weren't people just waiting in the wings to take over His job. They were men who were focused on "the work", the cause of Christ, spreading the gospel, etc...Maybe if we were busier doing the work of the Lord, we wouldn't be so engrossed with wanting to be the top dog ( 1Co_15:58 ).

'FELLOW-SERVANT' -'serves the Lord with me' (Tay). Note that Paul wasn't "all caught up in himself". Both Tychicus and Paul stood before God on equal ground. This phrase should remind all faithful Christians of a very basic and important truth, we are on the same side! It should also remind every member, that God expects each Christian to "serve", i.e. to do their fair share ( Mat_25:14 ff; Eph_2:10 ). A serious question to ask ourselves, would be, 'at this very moment, could other Christians really call me a "fellow-servant"? We have too many spectators in the Church and not enough "servants".

'IN THE LORD' -'faithful to Paul as well as to Christ.' (Robertson p. 510) 'for the fellowship in service is marked by the common object and sphere of it--"the Lord".' (Eadie p. 280) Again, this should remind us that for the Christian, nothing is more pressing or important than doing the Lord's work ( Mat_6:33 ). No relationship is more valuable, than his or her relationship with Jesus ( Mat_10:37 ). If you are a "fellow-servant", then Jesus is just as important to you, as He is to the rest of your faithful brethren. The Church is for people who desire to serve the Lord, above all else. Paul could say of this Christian, 'He serves the Lord with the same conviction that I do.' Could Paul honestly say such of us?

Verse 8

Col_4:8 whom I have sent you for this very purpose, that ye may know our state, and that he may comfort your hearts;

'THAT YE MAY KNOW OUR STATE' -'all my affairs' (4:7). 'learn our circumstances' (TCNT); 'how we are faring' (Wey).

'COMFORT YOUR HEARTS' -'give you encouragement' (TCNT); 'cheer your hearts' (Wey); 'bring courage to your hearts' (Knox).

'COMFORT' -3870. parakaleo par-ak-al-eh'-o; from 3844 and 2564; to call near, i.e. invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation): -beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort(-ation), intreat, pray.

Points to Note:

1. Look at the real concern that First Century Christians had for each other. The Colossians are anxious about Paul's welfare and Paul is anxious that their anxiety would be relieved ( Php_1:12 ). This reveals that we perform better, we think better, we achieve greater things, when our mind isn't focused upon ourselves ( Php_2:3-4 ).

2. Hearing that someone is handling adversity well, is a great shot in the arm. Apparently, Tychicus would relay the type of information found in the Philippian letter, i.e. that many are hearing the gospel, even though Paul is under house arrest ( Php_1:12-15 ). That good things are coming out of a bad situation. Such information would have a great stabilizing affect upon these Christians.

Verse 9

Col_4:9 together with Onesimus, the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things that are done here.

'TOGETHER WITH ONESIMUS' -Who was accompanying Tychicus.

'ONESIMUS' -3682. Onesimos on-ay'-sim-os; from 3685; profitable; Onesimus, a Christian: -Onesimus.

-(oh NESS ih muss).

From this letter, and the letter to Philemon we learn: He was a slave of Philemon and a native of Colossae ('who is one of you' (4:9; Phm_1:10 ). He had runaway from Philemon, and had been a very poor slave in the past ( Phm_1:11 ). He had come to Rome and in the process had ran into Paul, and was converted ( Phm_1:10 ). Paul would have loved to keep Onesimus with him as a co-worker, but realized that he needed to send Onesimus back to Philemon ( Phm_1:13 ).

'THE FAITHFUL AND BELOVED BROTHER' -The same terms used of Tychicus ( Col_4:7 ). 'Whatever may have been his delinquencies as a slave of Philemon, he is now commended as a faithful brother-- one the genuineness of whose Christianity might be safely trusted .' (Eadie p. 281) 'Whom the Colossians had known only as the worthless, runaway slave.' (Vincent p. 511)

'WHO IS ONE OF YOU' -'Colossae being either the place of his birth or his ordinary abode.' (Eadie p. 282)

'THEY SHALL MAKE KNOWN UNTO YOU ALL THINGS THAT ARE DONE HERE' -Onesimus also has personal information to impart.

Points to Note:

1. The conversion of Onesimus, also could cause some problems. How would people treat him? Would they hold the past against him? Would they say, 'Once a useless slave, always a useless slave?' What about the other slaves in the household who hadn't ran away? Would they have the attitude of the older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son? ( Luk_15:25-32 ) What about those slaves that might have been punished in the past? Would they resent the fact that Onesimus wouldn't be punished?

2. Our response to the gospel can make a big difference whether other members really accept us or not. Paul points out that the conversion of Onesimus was genuine, he was sincere, he had really changed. He had become a very hard worker for the kingdom of God. So useful had he become, that Paul was hesitant to let him go. This should remind people that if others don't believe that we have really repented, then maybe our repentance doesn't look sincere ( 2Co_7:10-11 ).

3. People can change! ( 1Co_6:9-11 ) We aren't told why Onesimus ran away in the first place. But it seems clear that he was a man filled with wrong thoughts and attitudes. The religion of Christ Jesus had transformed him inside and out. So much so, that Onesimus had the courage to go back to the people he had wronged and entrust himself to their forgiveness and care.

4. And that change can be drastic. The once useless slave is now a very profitable one. A man with a new purpose in life, a man with a higher ethic for living and serving his master.

5. Becoming a Christian doesn't automatically erase all the physical consequences of our previous sins. Even though he is forgiven, Onesimus still has past failures to face up to. Paul doesn't believe that circumstances are what determine how "faithful" you become. Paul sends this Christian back to a stressful set of circumstances. He sends him back to the community that knew his sin.

Bruce notes, 'Onesimus was now in good standing as a church member...He would therefore naturally receive from the Colossian church the same welcome as would be given to any other visiting Christian...Onesimus's welcome by the whole church of Colossae, on Paul's commendation, would be a powerful lever for Philemon's acceptance of him too.' (p. 177)


Verse 10

Col_4:10 Aristarchus my fellow-prisoner saluteth you, and Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (touching whom ye received commandments; if he come unto you, receive him),

'ARISTARCHUS' -708. Aristarchos ar-is'-tar-khos; from the same as 712 and 757; best ruling; Aristarchus, a Macedonian: -Aristarchus.

-'air ihs TAR kus) (the best ruler).

From the New Testament we learn: (1) He was a Christian from city of Thessalonica ( Act_19:29 ; Act_20:4 ). (2) We first find him with Paul on Paul's third journey ( Act_19:29 ). He was also one of the messengers selected to accompany Paul with the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem ( Act_20:4 ). (3) He accompanied Paul on his journey to Rome ( Act_27:2 ).

'MY FELLOW-PRISONER' -'He had been much in Paul's society--was with him during the riot at Ephesus ( Act_19:29 )..was with him too when he sailed for Italy, in order to follow out his appeal to Caesar, and seems to have remained with him in Rome.' (Eadie p. 282) We should note that there appears to have been no charge against Aristarchus, hence his sharing Paul's imprisonment was voluntary. Some writers suggest that Paul's friends shared in his confinement by turns. 'These men may well have volunteered to share Paul's imprisonment, assisting him in every possible way.' (Hendriksen p. 187) This would be an application of what Jesus was talking about in Mat_25:39 .

The expression 'my fellow-prisoner', literally means, 'my fellow-prisoner of war' (O'Brien p. 249).

'MARK' -This is evidently the John Mark, who is mentioned in the Book of Acts. The New Testament reveals that: (1) His mother's name was Mary ( Act_12:12 ), and apparently he was from Jerusalem. (2) He had accompanied Paul and Barnabas on the First Missionary Journey ( Act_13:5 ), and had left them at Pamphylia (13:13). This departure later became a sore spot between Paul and Barnabas ( Act_15:37-41 ), when they were choosing companions for the Second Missionary Journey. Paul selected Silas and returned overland to Asia Minor and Greece, and Barnabas took Mark and returned to Cyprus ( Act_15:39-41 ). This break had occurred around 49-50 A.D. Hence, we haven't heard about Mark for some 13 years. All the references to Mark after this break are very positive. In fact, one of the specific individuals that Paul requests during his final imprisonment, is Mark ( 2Ti_4:11 ). And at that time Paul says of him, 'for he is useful to me for service.'. From the epistle of 1 Peter, we also learn that Mark was a co-worker with Peter ( 1Pe_5:13 ). And the language suggests ('my son'), that Peter might have personally converted Mark.

'THE COUSIN OF' -'Cousin' is correct and not nephew. The KJV says, 'sister's son'. Bruce notes that the word means "first cousin" (p. 179)

'BARNABAS' -921. Barnabas bar-nab'-as; of Aramaic origin [1247 and 5029]; son of Nabas (i.e. prophecy); Barnabas, an Israelite: -Barnabas.

Points to Note:

1. This seems to suggest that the name of Barnabas was familiar with these Christians, i.e. he might have worked in this region or his name was famous in Christian circles.

2. Here is a great word of encouragement to all Christians. Two Christians can disagree strongly over an area of opinion (i.e. should Mark have a second chance or not, was he dependable or not, were his reasons for leaving sincere or not, etc...), and still remain close friends. The story of Mark, is a story in which all the parties involved benefited in the end. Mark has proven himself dependable, and all three men are close friends and co-workers. Sadly, in the Church, it too often happens that brethren disagree strongly over an area of opinion, and never speak to each other again.

3. Mark is a problem for the advocates of the New Hermeneutic. For this writer of a gospel, taught the exact same thing as the writers of the epistles (i.e. Peter and Paul).

4. We don't know exactly why Mark left Paul and Barnabas on the first journey. But if it was indeed a sign of weakness, then here we learn that there was hope for those who have fallen into the sins of disloyalty and cowardice.

5. It is refreshing to see that the early church gave members who made mistakes, a chance to redeem themselves.

'TOUCHING WHOM YE RECEIVED COMMANDMENTS' -The 'whom' refers back to Mark, and not Barnabas.

'COMMANDMENTS' -1785. entole en-tol-ay'; from 1781; injunction, i.e. an authoritative prescription: -commandment, precept.

'IF HE COME UNTO YOU, RECEIVE HIM' -Indicating that Mark might be headed for Colossae. Some five years later Timothy (in Ephesus) will be exhorted to bring Mark with him to Rome ( 2Ti_4:11 ).

Points to Note:

1. Paul always tried to do everything he could to ensure unity among God's people. Just in case any in Colossae had heard about Mark's failure, Paul completely endorses him.

2. We don't know anything about what commands or when such commands were delivered to the Colossians by Mark.

3. From the First Epistle of Peter (which was written to churches in Asia Minor-1:1); we learn that Mark did have an attachment to congregations in this area ( 1Pe_5:13 ). Mark may have previously preached in this region.

Verse 11

Col_4:11 and Jesus that is called Justus, who are of the circumcision: these only are my fellow-workers unto the kingdom of God, men that have been a comfort unto me.

'JESUS' -Was a common Jewish name, the N.T. equivalent of the O.T. 'Joshua'. This particular 'Jesus' is only mentioned here. 'This was his Jewish name (the Greek form of "Joshua" or "Jeshua")..and was common among Jews..until the second century A.D. when it disappeared as a proper name, no doubt because of the conflict between the synagogue and the Church.' (O'Brien p. 251)

'CALLED JUSTUS' -2459. Ioustos ee-ooce'-tos; of Latin origin ("just"); Justus, the name of three Christian: -Justus.

-'("just", "righteous") was frequently adopted by individual Jews, or conferred on them, as a Gentile (Latin) surname..' (P.P. Comm. p. 213)

-'Along with many other Jews who took a Hellenistic Roman name similar to their Hebrew or Aramaic name..' (O'Brien p. 251)

'WHO ARE OF THE CIRCUMCISION' -Aristarchus, Mark and Jesus/Justus are all Christians from a Jewish background.

'THESE ONLY ARE MY FELLOW-WORKERS' -i.e. of Christians from a Jewish background.

Point to Note:

Since Paul had other fellow-workers of a Jewish background (i.e. Barnabas); and other faithful Jewish Christians did exist (the other apostles, including Peter). Paul must be saying that these are presently the only Jewish Christians who are assisting him in his imprisonment. 'These three Jews were the only parties of their race who lent him any assistance for this purpose at Rome..' (Eadie p. 286)

'UNTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD' -Since the day of Pentecost ( Act_2:1-47 ), we find that the kingdom of God was a present reality ( Act_28:30-31 ; Col_1:13 ; Rev_1:5-6 ; Rev_1:9 ). This agrees with Jesus' statement that the kingdom would come within the lifetime of the apostles ( Mar_9:1 ). And that when the "new birth" would be available, the kingdom would be in existence ( Joh_3:5 ).

The Kingdom of God refers to the same relationship also known as the Church (Compare Act_20:28 = Rev_1:5-6 ; Act_2:47 = Col_1:12-13 ).

The idea that the expression 'kingdom of God' refers to some millennial kingdom, or that the kingdom didn't actually come until 1914, doesn't find any support in the Scriptures.

'MEN THAT HAVE BEEN A COMFORT UNTO ME' -'I have found them a great comfort' (TCNT); 'but what a help they have been'.

'COMFORT' -3931. paregoria par-ay-gor-ee'-ah; from a compound of 3844 and a derivative of 58 (meaning to harangue an assembly); an address alongside, i.e. (specifically) consolation: -comfort.

-'means solace, relief. A medical term.' (Robertson p. 512) 'were used especially as medical terms, in the sense of "assuaging", "alleviating".' (Bruce p. 181)

Points to Note:

1. The Apostle Paul wasn't a superman. He was just like us, human. He wasn't made out of rubber and neither was he a stoic ( 2Co_11:28-29 ).

2. Paul faced many 'Jews', that were anything but a comfort. Sadly, even in the Church there were a number of Jewish Christians that tried to undermine Paul's work and influence ( Gal_2:1-5 ). Many of the congregations he had established were plagued by Judaizing teachers. Eadie notes, 'As the apostle of the Gentiles, and the zealous maintainer of the free and unconditional admission of men to the church, without any reference to the law, Paul was an object of bitter prejudice to many Christian Hebrews.' (p. 286)

3. In contrast, these men were a breath of fresh air. They had overcome prejudice, they realized that the Law of Moses was only temporary ( Col_2:16-17 ; Gal_3:24 ); and that physical circumcision wasn't necessary for salvation.

4. This verse should tell us that trouble-makers, false brethren, false teachers, etc..will always exist, even in the Church. Be determined, that you will be a "comfort" to the elders, the deacons, the preacher or your fellow member. Be determined that you will demonstrate in your life that the gospel can really change people--give someone a reason why they should keep on teaching and preaching.

5. It is so easy to get caught up in the numbers game. But what is more important that quantity is quality.


Verse 12

Col_4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, saluteth you, always striving for you in his prayers, that ye may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.

'EPAPHRAS' -(EP uh frus).

'WHO IS ONE OF YOU' -(4:9). A native or long-time resident of Colossae, and a member of the Church here. He served as the contact man between this congregation and Paul (1:7). 'He was either a native of Colossae or had settled there.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 546)

'A SERVANT OF CHRIST JESUS' -Throughout this letter Paul has been continually endorsing the "soundness" of this man and the gospel that he had been preaching (1:5-7; 2:2-7).

'ALWAYS STRIVING' -75. agonizomai ag-o-nid'-zom-ahee; from 73; to struggle, literally (to compete for a prize), figuratively (to contend with an adversary), or genitive case (to endeavor to accomplish something): -fight, labor fervently, strive.

-'always most earnest' (TCNT); 'always wrestling' (Wey); 'He prays hard for you all the time' (NEB).

-'denotes patient persistence, this word the intense energy of prevailing prayer' (P.P. Comm. p. 213) 'indicating intense mental concentration and earnest spiritual effort.' (Erdman p. 118)

'FOR YOU IN HIS PRAYERS' -( Rom_15:30 )

Points to Note:

1. Epaphras, was certainly "watchful" in his prayers (4:2).

2. Although, he was separated from them, they were never out of his mind. He had worked with them, he knew from first hand experience the dangers that threatened them. He knew the current strength's and weaknesses of the various members.

3. Eadie notes, 'Love so pure and spiritual as that of Epaphras will produce an agony of earnestness. There will be no listless or fitful asking--but a mighty and continual wrestling of heart.' (p. 287)

'THAT YE MAY' -Here is what Epaphras continually prayed for.

'STAND' -2476. histemi his'-tay-mee; a prolonged form of a primary stao stah'-o (of the same meaning, and used for it in certain tenses); to stand (transitively or intransitively), used in various applications (literally or figuratively): -abide, appoint, bring, continue, covenant, establish, hold up, lay, present, set (up), stanch, stand (by, forth, still, up). Compare 5087.

'PERFECT' -5046. teleios tel'-i-os; from 5056; complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.); neuter (as noun, with 3588) completeness: -of full age, man, perfect.

O'Brien notes, 'The reference to perfection..touches on one of the key issues at Colossae in which members of the congregation were encouraged by the false teachers to seek maturity or perfection through their philosophy (2:8) with its ascetic practices, visionary experiences and special revelations, rather than through Christ.' (p. 253)

Note that Epaphras prayed for the same thing that Paul desired for these Christians (1:28; 2:2).

-'praying that you may stand firm, with a matured faith' (TCNT)

'AND FULLY ASSURED' -'fully convinced and certain' (O'Brien p. 254)


Points to Note:

1. Epaphras knew what would keep these Christians from falling for the persuasive false teachings around them: (1) Complete conviction that the will of God is right in all things ( Psalms 119:128; 160 ). (2) That an objective standard of truth exists-rather than a subjective standard-or an ever changing standard. (3) That all truth is found in the teachings of the apostles ( Joh_16:13 ), i.e. the Bible is right about everything it teaches.

2. Notice how Epaphras says nothing about 'following your heart..or that the Lord will just guide you into your own understanding of the truth.' Carefully note that inspired writers didn't use the subjective terminology that is so popular in denominational circles.

3. Again, the advocates of the New Hermeneutic find themselves in hot water. Epaphras believed that what Paul wrote was the will of God. He believed that the letters to the churches were authoritative and binding. He believed that Paul was giving them God's truth.

4. Also note that doing or believing "some" of God's will isn't enough.

5. 'He would have them stand firm against all the currents of false belief which threaten to bear them away from Christ.'(Erdman p. 118)

Verse 13

Col_4:13 For I bear him witness, that he hath much labor for you, and for them in Laodicea, and for them in Hierapolis.

'FOR I BEAR HIM WITNESS' -'I can vouch for him' (Knox); 'From my own observation I can tell you' (Phi).

'HE HATH MUCH LABOR YOU YOU' -'deep interest' (TCNT); 'he has a real passion for your welfare' (Phi). Notice that real prayer is hard work. It is a "labor". Evidently Paul had either seen and or heard Epaphras making fervent prayers on behalf of these Christians. Paul is always ready to compliment and praise another Christian, when such praise is due.

Point to Note:

Too many people have the attitude that God won't be pleased regardless of what they do or don't do. They have been told that God is unreasonable, unfair and always mad. In contrast, God is always eager to praise His children. In fact, God wants us to do the right thing, so He can rejoice in our accomplishments.


Points to Note:

1. 'The cities are named in geographical order. Laodicea and Hieropolis faced each other on the north and south sides of the Lycus valley, about six miles apart. Colossae was ten or twelve miles farther up the stream.' (Vincent p. 513)

2. Evidently, Epaphras knew Christians in the whole valley. And also that the dangers threatening the church in Colossae threatened these other congregations as well. 'Apparently there were well-established churches in both cities and Epaphras had, under God, substantially contributed to their life and growth.' (O'Brien p. 254)

3. We should note, that it appears that the churches in this region had somewhat weathered the storm of this false teaching. For some 30 years later in the Revelation letter, we don't find the church at Laodicea being threatened by error. But we do find it being apathetic.

4. What affects one congregation can affect another. Therefore, it is wise for the elders and or preacher to keep on eye on what is disturbing other congregations. Paul is doing a tremendous amount of "preventative" teaching in this letter. One of the best ways to counteract the influence of error, is to strongly and positively preach the truth, before that error arrives.

Verse 14

Col_4:14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas salute you.

'LUKE' -3065. Loukas loo-kas'; contracted from Latin Lucanus; Lucas, a Christian: -Lucas, Luke.

'THE BELOVED PHYSICIAN' -'our dear doctor' (TCNT); 'the doctor and dear friend' (Beck).

From the New Testament we learn that: (1) Luke joined Paul on his Second Journey (A.D. 49-53) ( Act_16:10-17 'we'). And stayed in Philippi for around 7 years. He will rejoin Paul, as Paul is heading to Jerusalem with the contribution for the poor saints ( Act_20:5 ff). (2) Luke may have stayed with Paul all the way from his arrest in Jerusalem, two-year imprisonment in Caesarea, voyage to Rome, and subsequent house arrest. All the "we" passages in Acts, includes Luke. (2) During these periods, and especially Paul's imprisonment in Rome, Luke may have written the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. More than one-fourth of the New Testament comes from his pen, and he is the only non-Jewish writer of a New Testament book. (3) He was a careful historian ( Luk_1:1-4 ). (4) At the end of Paul's life, we find Luke by his side ( 2Ti_4:11 )

Points to Note:

1. Contrary to the claims of some, Christianity doesn't have anything against 'modern' medicine ( Mat_9:12 ).

2. 'Luke and Paul had much in common. Both were educated men, men of culture. Both were big-hearted, broad-minded, sympathetic.' (Hendriksen p. 192)

3. It would seem reasonable, that Luke cared for some of the health problems that Paul may have acquired in his relentless effort to spread the gospel ( 2Co_11:23 ff)

4. Luke may also have given up a lucrative career to attend to the needs of Paul and preach the gospel.

5. The fact that Luke recorded the life of Christ and the spread of the gospel (The book of Acts), adds just another weight of evidence for the integrity of the New Testament. Luke, a doctor, wouldn't have been fooled by fake healings. He would have had a more analytical approach to what happened. And yet, he endorses the miracles of Jesus, His resurrection and the miracles performed by the apostles. Sometimes people forget that the bulk of the New Testament was written by two very unlikely individuals. A Gentile doctor and a former Pharisee and member of the Jewish High Council. In no way, can anyone reasonably claim that Paul and Luke were prejudiced. If anything, at least Paul had at one time been clearly prejudiced against Christianity!

'DEMAS' -1214. Demas day-mas'; probably for 1216; Demas, a Christian: -Demas.

In this letter and the letter to Philemon, he is spoken as a co-worker of Paul ( Phm_1:24 ). Yet, some 4 years later Paul will say of him, 'for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica' ( 2Ti_4:10 ). This Scripture has been the subject of much debate. How strong are we to take the word "deserted"? It appears to me that the whole issue rests on the qualifying phrase 'having loved this present world'. Which sounds a lot like 1Jn_2:15 and Jam_4:4 . This phrase isn't attached to other Christian teachers and preaches who were laboring in other parts of the world, and who were unable to be with Paul.

Bruce is probably close to the truth, when he says, 'which may imply that some temporal interest took him off at a time when the imprisoned apostle would have valued his continued presence.' (p. 182)


Verse 15

Col_4:15 Salute the brethren that are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church that is in their house.

'NYMPHAS' -3564. Numphas noom-fas'; probably contracted for a compound of 3565 and 1435; nymph-given (i.e. -born); Nymphas, a Christian: -Nymphas.

-(NIM fuhs). There is some disagreement among writers as to whether this name refers to a man or a woman. The manuscripts vary between Nympha (feminine) and Nymphas (masculine), and also between 'in her house' and 'in his house' and some even have, 'in their house'.


Point to Note:

Currently, the most popular interpretation of the above expression is that the local congregation or a segment of the Christians in Laodicea assembled and worshipped in the home belonging to this Christian. One common assumption for this view is that no buildings existed which were large enough to accommodate every member of a local congregation in the First Century. Unfortunately, this isn't true. The Church in Jerusalem (3000 plus) met regularly in the temple complex ( Act_2:46 ; Act_5:12 ). In addition, if this were true, then where did all the other religious and secular organizations of the day hold their meetings?

One of the oldest views, the one held by many of those who lived after the days of the apostles, is that the expression 'church that is in their house', refers to the family members who were Christians.

In this verse, that interpretation seems to fit better. For if we take the first interpretation (the church meets in their house), we are saying that two congregations existed in Laodicea-i.e. the first one being 'the brethren who are in Laodicea', the second one being 'the church that is in her house'. It makes more sense to me, to have Paul saying here, 'Greet all the Christians in Laodicea, including Nymphas and the 'church' (the called out) which are members of her or his family.'

One needs to be very careful when dealing with the "house-church" concept. The Discipleship Movement has argued that each New Testament church was broken down into "house-churches", i.e. many groups of Christians meeting, worshipping and serving God in the same city, under a common eldership. Many denominational writers see the same thing. Unfortunately, such an arrangement: (1) Violates Scripture ( 1Pe_5:1-3 ). (2) Is nothing more than the Catholic concept of a diocese. (3) And opens the door for further error. For it, one eldership can oversee a number of "mini" congregations, why can't they oversee a number of big congregations. And if that is alright, why can't they oversee every congregation?

Verse 16

Col_4:16 And when this epistle hath been read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye also read the epistle from Laodicea.

'THIS EPISTLE HATH BEEN READ AMONG YOU' -Which infers: (1) It was much more than a mere 'love letter', it was an authoritative document which was binding upon every Christian ( 1Co_14:37 ). (2) One writer makes a tremendous point, the very fact that Paul's letters were to be read "among you", i.e. when they were assembled, is proof that they were viewed on a par with the rest of Scripture ( 1Ti_4:13 ; 2Pe_3:15-16 ).

'CAUSE' -'see that' (TCNT). That is, see to it, make sure that a copy is sent to the Church in Laodicea-'don't drop the ball on this matter.'


Points to Note:

1. The fact that Paul mentions the "church" (singular) and not the churches of the Laodiceans, seems to add additional weight to our above discussion that only one congregation existed in this city. And that the expression 'church in their house', refers to family members who were Christians.

2. Now a tremendous amount of truth can be inferred from the fact, that even though this letter wasn't specifically addressed to the church at Laodicea, it still applied equally to them: (a) This is "our mail" too. These letters are binding upon all Christians and all men ( Gal_5:19-21 ), regardless of geographical location, time and culture. (b) Truth for one congregation was truth for all ( 1Co_4:17 ; 1Co_7:17 ). (c) God doesn't lead each congregation into its own interpretation of the truth. Every congregation has the same purpose, is to teach the same truth and is to be regulated by the same standard. (d) God isn't bound to "update" the truth for each generation. For God's truth is eternal.

'AND THAT YE ALSO READ THE EPISTLE FROM LAODICEA' -'my letter that is coming from Laodicea' (NASV).

Points to Note:

1. This statement has generated quite a bit of discussion. The first question that is usually asked or investigated, 'Is Paul here referring to a letter known as, 'The Epistle To the Laodiceans' which is now lost?

2. When I look at the language of this verse and the context in which it is found, I must conclude that Paul isn't referring to a letter that was specifically addressed to the Church at Laodicea: (a) Why greet Nymphas and the brethren at Laodicea (4:15), if Paul has already sent them their own letter? (b) The text doesn't say that it was a letter addressed primarily to the Laodiceans, rather, it was a letter "from Laodicea". (c) It seems to me that the best guess, is that this letter was the Ephesian letter, which would be dropped off at Ephesus before Tychicus headed 100 miles inland to Colossae ( Eph_6:21-23 ), then circulated among the churches in Asia Minor. (d) Since Paul knew about this letter and puts it on a par with the letter to the Colossians (i.e. to be read by the church), I must conclude that the letter under consideration wasn't a letter from the Laodiceans to Paul (a view advocated by some writers), but that it was an inspired letter, i.e. Scripture.

Hendriksen notes, 'Why should he place these two on a par: a letter written by himself to the Colossians, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and an uninspired communication supposedly sent to him by the Laodiceans?' (p. 195)

Verse 17

Col_4:17 And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.

'AND SAY TO' -'A brief message to' (Phi). Since this message to Archippus is given somewhat indirectly, 'and say to'. Some writers assume that this man may have been preaching in one of the other churches of the Lycus valley at this time.

'ARCHIPPUS' -751. Archippos ar'-khip-pos; from 746 and 2462; horse-ruler; Archippus, a Christian: -Archippus.

-'(ar KIP pus). Since he is mentioned in the letter to Philemon ( Phm_1:2 ) many conjecture that this man was either Philemon's son or brother.

'TAKE HEED' -'Attend to the duty' (NEB). 'Keep an eye on' (Robertson p. 513)

'TO THE MINISTRY WHICH THOU HAST RECEIVED IN THE LORD, THAT THOU FULFILL IT' -'entrusted to you in the Lord's service, and discharge it to the full' (NEB); 'God called you into His service--Oh, do not fail Him!' (Nor)

Points to Note:

1. The language of this verse resembles 2Ti_4:5 'do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.' Which infers that Archippus may have been an evangelist working with the church at Colossae, or the churches in this valley.

2. 'that thou keep on filling it full. It is a life-time job.' (Robertson p. 513)

3. This reveals something about the areas of divine service in which we find ourselves. Christians need to view themselves as servants of Christ, servants who have been given a mission and a task by the Lord ( Mat_25:14 ff). 'Every opportunity must be improved; every responsibility must be accepted.' (Erdman p. 121)

4. Maybe we would be more productive as Christians, more efficient and effective in God's work, if we really realized that God is counting on us!

5. We should note that the congregation at Colossae is called upon to exhort this preacher. We often forget, that the congregation has an obligation to support, and encourage those who are encouraging them ( 2Ti_4:2 ; 1Th_5:12-14 ). And this is a greatly needed lesson for us in the Church. For, all too often it seems that the mindset of some is to ride preachers and elders, until they quit or resign, instead of encouraging them not to give up!

Verse 18

Col_4:18 The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you.

'WITH MINE OWN HAND' -Paul writes the last words of this letter with his own hand. This not only added a personal touch, but it also demonstrated that the letter was authentic ( 1Co_16:21 ; 2Th_3:17 ). In view of the reality that spurious letters did exist ( 2Th_2:1-2 ).

'REMEMBER MY BONDS' -Barclay notes, 'There is no self-pity and no sentimental plea for sympathy..Paul's references to his sufferings are not pleas for sympathy; they are his claims to authority, the guarantees of his right to speak. It is as if he said, "This is not a letter from someone who does not know what the service of Christ means or someone who is asking others to do what he is not prepared to do himself.' (pp. 174-175)

Bibliographical Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Colossians 4". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dun/colossians-4.html. 1999-2014.
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