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Bible Commentaries
Colossians 4

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NTLuscombe's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

1Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

This verse belongs with the previous chapter that discusses - slaves. This verse looks at the duty of the master (boss) toward those who work for him.

They need to be just and fair. NIV "right and fair" NASB "justice and fairness" Phillips "your responsibility is to be fair and just" The employee must give a days work for a days pay. The employer must give a days pay for a days work. In many cases, each is waiting for the other to act first. This passage teaches that there is a mutual obligation.

The boss or master must be reminded that they, too, have a boss. Their Master is in heaven.

1 - Masters, treat those under you with fairness and justice. Never forget that you have a Master watching you from heaven.

Verses 2-4

Duty of Prayer - 4:2-4

2Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;

Now Paul moves to some other duties that need some attention. Prayer. NIV "devote yourselves to prayer" Phillips "maintain the habit of prayer" Vine "continue - to be strong towards, to endure in, to be continually steadfast with a person or thing" Vincent "compare Act_2:42 ; Act_2:46 ; Act_6:4 ; Rom_12:12 ; Rom_13:6 ; 1Th_5:17 "

Jesus taught a parable on the importance of prayer. ( Luk_18:1 ) In the Christian's armor of Eph_6:1-24 there is a secret weapon - prayer. If you leave this part of your protection at home, you will lack the power to stand throughout the battle.

We must not just keep doing it. We must be vigilant in it. SEV "be alert" NEB "with mind awake" We must keep alert and awake. Vine "keeping awake, spiritual alertness" As we pray for opportunities, we must be alert as God gives them to us. When you pray, it is your duty to remain alert to the ways that God has to answer your request. Don't limit how God can answer prayer.

2 - Keep on praying. Remain alert to God's answer and be grateful.

3meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains,

While you are praying, remember Paul and those with him. Paul requests - not to be free from his prison, but to have opportunity to preach and teach.

Phillips "include us in your prayers" Paul often requested the prayers of those to whom he wrote. We need to learn to request the prayers of our brethren. We also need to learn to be specific in what we need in those prayers.

God can open doors. He can close windows. He can "guard, guide and direct us" in answer to our prayers. We must be alert to the open doors. The "open door" here is a metaphor for opportunities to preach the gospel.

Paul wants to reveal what has been a mystery. Jews and Gentiles are welcome in the kingdom of God. See Col_1:26-27 .

Paul alludes to his being in prison. Notice, the prayer he requests is not for his release. It is for opportunities to preach and teach. Colossians is one of the "prison epistles" because these were letters written near the end of Paul's life from his imprisonment in Rome.

The prison epistles are full of hope, joy, gratitude, assurance and encouragement. Prison was not a place for Paul to feel sorry for himself and have a pity party. It was an open invitation to preach to others.

3 - Pray for us. Pray specifically that God will open doors so that the message of salvation can be proclaimed. This is why I am in prison.

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

SEB "make the message clear" The word "manifest" means "open to light, visible, uncover, lay bare, reveal" (Vine) Our goal is to make it so plain that it can not be misunderstood. Don't try to be cute or too fancy in teaching the gospel. "The wayfaring man, though fools, shall not err therein" ( Isa_35:8 )

We know we ought to speak. We know what to speak. We know what needs to be said. What we lack is the courage to speak.

Notice that Paul is not generic (Pray for us) but is very specific in what they should pray for. Paul requested that they pray for:

God to open doors of opportunity.

Have opportunities to speak.

Speak clearly so all can understand.

Courage to do what he knew was his duty.

4 - Pray that I can make the message plain. It is my duty and I want to continue in it.

Verses 5-6

Duty of Example - 4:5-6

5Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.

We should walk (live our lives) in wisdom. Phillips "be wise in your behavior" SEB "live wisely" Let the conduct of your life and the example you set before the world show where "true" wisdom can be found.

The wisdom of the world is not in the same ballgame with the wisdom of God. ( Jam_1:5-6 ; Jam_3:13-18 )

This visible wisdom must be seen by the world, not just the church. We should behave toward those out of Christ in such a way that they want to be Christians.

NIV "make the most of every opportunity" We must make good use of the limited time we have to make good impressions on the world around us. When the door opens, we must be ready to take advantage of it. Example: When Russia opened it doors to Americans - within 6 months there were more than 5,000 Americans in Russia and more than 100 churches started with thousands of baptisms.

If anyone asks about how to jump at opportunity when opportunities are so hard to recognize - the answer is "Just keep jumping."

5 - Conduct your life with wisdom before those who are outside of Christ. Buy for your use all the opportunities you can.

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

Our speech should be kind. NEB "always gracious, never insipid" Phillips "speak pleasantly to them" SEB "message should always be beautiful"

Make sure that you add some salt to flavor it, make it taste better and more acceptable. Our lives must be salted. Study Mar_9:50 ; Luk_14:34 .

We must learn how to respond under adverse circumstances. The meaning is not how to answer their questions. The idea is that we must how to respond to the circumstances of life. We must respond in faith. We must deal with the problems of life with graciousness and in good taste.

6 - Allow your words to be gracious at all times. Make sure that your words are tasteful so that you can properly respond to any circumstance.

Verses 7-18

Personal Greetings - 4:7-18

(I did not try to add Luscombe's paraphrase to these verses.)

7Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me.

Onesimus and Tychicus are the carriers of Philemon, Colossians and Ephesians. Tychicus was with Paul on his third journey. ( Act_20:4 ) He is also mentioned in Tit_3:12 . Paul gives him three titles: 1) Beloved brother 2) Faithful minister 3) Fellow servant.

8I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts,

Paul is sending him to deliver the letter, learn of how they are doing, and report to Paul.

Tychicus will comfort them. Letters are sometimes cold and harsh. Tychicus will take the edge off the letter and make sure it is received in the same spirit with which it was sent.

9with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all things which are happening here.

Onesmimus is a run away slave of Philemon. Now he is returning, still a slave, but also a brother in Christ. The letter to Philemon is being sent at the same time as the Colossian letter.

They will report on the condition of Paul and what is happening in other places.

10Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him),

Aristarchus is not a cell mate. Paul is in a hired house under house arrest but allowed to have guests come and go. It appears that he is with Paul in sympathy and support.

Mark is the author of the the gospel of Mark. He is also called John Mark. Paul urges the church at Colosse to welcome him if he passes through Colosse.

11and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me.

We do not know any thing about this man. He is mentioned nowhere else in the New Testament.

We know that he stands in good company with the ones mentioned above.

12Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

Epaphras is a hard worker, laboring in the kingdom. He is a man of prayer. He is a fellow servant of Christ.

He is striving (literally - in pain) in prayer for the Colossians.

13For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis.

Here is a man who cares about them, feels their pain. In fact the word "zeal" would be better translated as "in pain" for them. The churches in this region are his painful concern.

14Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you.

Luke is the author of the gospel of Luke, a medical doctor, and it would appear a companion of Demas. They are mentioned together. ( Phm_1:24 )

Demas has a bad mention in 2Ti_4:10 must be put in perspective of the mention of him in Colossians and Philemon.

15Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.

Paul now sends greetings to the church at Laodicea.

This church is included even though they received a letter of their own. Why? The answer is most likely found in the fact that most of the oldest manuscripts of Ephesians do not contain the name of Ephesus. The Ephesian letter, as we know it, was probably a provincial letter. It was intended to be passed around. Colossians was written at the same time and to the same territory. Paul had to deal with the heresy. This would explain the need for two letters which are so similar.

Nymphas is a sister who has a group of Christians meeting in her home.

16Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

All letters of Paul were intended to be copied, read, shared, distributed and exchanged.

17And say to Archippus, " Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it. "

Paul urges Archippus to keep up the good work of ministry he is doing. Pay attention and keep up.

18This salutation by my own hand-Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen.

Paul ends the letter with his own signature. Most letters were written by a scribe who would write what Paul would tell him. Often Paul would then add a closing comment.

Paul's final words: "REMEMBER MY BONDS."

Bibliographical Information
Luscombe, Manly. "Commentary on Colossians 4". Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mlc/colossians-4.html. 2021.
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