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Bible Commentaries

People's New Testament

Colossians 4


SUMMARY.--A Charge to Masters. Prayer and Prudence Commended. Tychicus, the Bearer of the Letter, Introduced. Onesimus Commended. Greetings from Brethren at Rome. The Epistle of the Laodiceans.

Verse 1

Masters, give unto your servants. See notes on Eph 6:9. This verse ought to have been joined to the section of the preceding chapter in which mutual duties are enjoined. It should be remarked that such a charge as this is not found in all the profane writings of antiquity. Even in the pages of the moralists a slave was regarded as a chattel with which the master had a right to deal according to his will. The Christian rule, at once introduced into the church, was for the master to treat his servants as he wished to be treated by his Master in heaven, and to expect the same kind of treatment that he meted out.

Verses 2-4

Continue in prayer. Prayer ought to be regular, habitual. The Christian should every day have a season of prayer. See Luk 18:1; Act 1:14; Eph 6:18.

Watch. Watch that you pray aright, in earnest, and ask for what you ought.

With thanksgiving. Let thanks for mercies given ascend as you ask for new mercies.

Praying also for us. Note the spirit of this prayer; not a thought of his ease, comfort, or even safety, but only that he may be given full opportunity to preach Christ. So sublime a self-forgetfulness in a suffering prisoner is almost divine.

The mystery of Christ. The gospel of Christ. It was a mystery, i. e., a hidden truth until it was revealed. See 1Co 4:1; Eph 6:19; Col 1:26; Col 2:2.

In bonds. See notes on Eph 6:20; Phi 1:7.

Verses 5-6

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without. Let your conduct be prudent and sagacious. Do not provoke persecution.

Redeeming the time. Using every opportunity and seeking time to do them good.

Redeeming. Buying by giving up your own pleasure.

Let your speech be always with grace. Use courteous speech, calculated to attract rather than to repel.

Seasoned with salt. Food without seasoning is insipid. Let the speech be so seasoned by "grace" that it will not be rejected with aversion.

That ye may know how, etc. So that your answer to every man may be such as the case requires. The idea is to always say what is pertinent and best for the occasion.

Verses 7-9

All my state shall Tychicus declare. See Eph 6:21 for note on Tychicus. He carried the Epistle to the Ephesians, and that to the Colossians on the same journey. He was probably a native of Ephesus, and was one of Paul's most trusted evangelists. See Act 20:4; 2Ti 4:12; Tit 3:12. It should be kept in mind that all Paul's Epistles were sent by messengers. There were no postal arrangements for carrying private letters such as exist in our times.

Whom I have sent. Not only to carry letters, but to ascertain the state of the churches, and to instruct and comfort them. He came as an evangelist to help them on.

With Onesimus. A peculiar interest is connected with Onesimus because he is the subject of the Epistle to Philemon. He belonged to Colosse, was probably a slave of Philemon, and had fled to Rome, and now returns as "a faithful and beloved brother." Tychicus bore also at this time the letter to Philemon.

Verses 10-13

There follow Christian remembrances from several of Paul's companions.

Aristarchus, my fellow-prisoner. A Macedonian from Thessalonica (Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4; Acts 27:2). He accompanied Paul from Jerusalem to Rome. He is named in Philemon 24.

And Marcus. The old companion of Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary tour.

Sister's son to Barnabas. It is now conceded that this should be, "Cousin to Barnabas." Since in this year (probably A. D. 62) Mark attends Paul, it is inferred that Barnabas was dead.

Touching whom. Mark.

Commandments. Commendations.

Receive him. Perhaps these churches knew that at one time Paul had refused to have Mark in his company (Acts 15:38), and hence would not have received him cordially without such a commendation.

And Jesus, which is called Justus. We only know of this man that, like Mark, he was a Jewish Christian, of the circumcision, and highly commended by Paul.

Epaphras. See note on Colossians 1:7. He is thought to have founded the church at Colosse.

One of you. A member of the Colossian church.

For you in prayers. In his absence from you he continues to labor fervently for you in his prayers.

Them that are in Laodicea. The sister city near at hand across the valley of the Lycus.

Hierapolis. Another city close at hand, in which a church had been planted. Probably Epaphras planted it also.

Verses 14-15

Luke. The historian. Note that two, Mark and Luke, were both with Paul at this time. See Introduction to Luke. He was a Gentile.

Demas. Named also, and not to his credit, in 2Ti 4:10; also in Philemon 24.

Nymphas. An inhabitant of Laodicea.

The church which is in his house. "His" in the Old Version; "her" in the Vatican MS., but the best authority renders it "their house;" i. e., the house of Nymphas and his family. In the first century no church building existed, and the Christians met in private houses. A portion, at least, of those in Laodicea met in the house of Nymphas, and are greeted as "the church in their house." See also Rom 16:5; 1Co 16:19; Philemon 2.

Verses 16-18

Likewise read the Epistle from Laodicea. The Epistles addressed to these contiguous churches were for each other. Tychicus no doubt bore also a letter to the Laodiceans. Whether that letter was lost, whether it is the Epistle to the Ephesians, or whether the letter was a general letter to the churches of Asia, has been much discussed. My own opinion is that more than one copy of the Ephesian letter was made, one being delivered to the Ephesian church, and the other to the church at Laodicea. Space will not permit of a discussion upon this point.

Say to Archippus. He is named in Philemon 2. He had some important work, and was possibly a preacher.

The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Paul dictated his epistles to an amanuensis (Rom 16:22), but was wont to add a salutation in his own hand (Gal 6:11; 2Th 3:17; 1Co 16:21).

Remember my bonds. Three times in this chapter he alludes to his chains, in Col 4:3, Col 4:10, Col 4:18. The thought is, "Be willing to suffer for the gospel even as I do."

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on Colossians 4". "People's New Testament". 1891.