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

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Verse 1

4:1 "Masters, give unto [your] servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven."

Wow, the implications of that verse. The implications are that we are to treat our slaves/employees as Christ treats us.

Let’s think about that one for a moment or two. How does Christ treat us?






How many of us would like to work for an employer like that? Most I would imagine.

If you are an employer, be sure to keep this in mind for your future reference - both future in this life and future in the next.

Now, if you are an employee don’t expect this sort of treatment as you most likely won’t get it unless you work for a believer that has read and understood this passage.

It seems to me that all of the people addressed in this passage are called to obey. The wife is to submit to her husband, the children are to obey their parents, the servants are to obey their masters, the masters are to obey their master in heaven - AND ALL THESE ARE TO DO IT AS UNTO THE LORD!

Unless you are an adult single person, whose parents have died and who is independently wealthy with no children there is something here for you. We should do all as unto the Lord.

Obey. Such a small word - it is a four-letter word to many in our society today, but it is a word that relates heavily to our relationship to God.

Adam and Eve didn’t function all that well with the word did they? Man has a serious problem in being obedient to God - the Bible is quite effective in documenting this problem.

It seems that walking with God is the only way that we can assure ourselves of obedience to all those we relate to. It is not so that we can look good to others, but so that we are good for the Lord.

We might just remind ourselves that there are consequences to disobedience and rewards for obedience in this life as well.


Disobedient Israelites Two were allowed into the land

died in the wilderness

Lot/daughters made it out of Sodom Lot’s wife became salt

Cain was rejected Able was accepted

Flood generation was lost Noah and family were saved

It might be appropriate to remind ourselves that the one we are to pattern our lives after is the perfect example of obeying. Christ was obedient even unto the cross.

Our lives should always revolve around pleasing the Lord and all our labors should be in His name, not our own efforts and desires. If we do all as unto the Lord then our service to Him will be proper.

Verse 2



Christ our Message directs our verbal service (vs. 3, 6).

Colossians 4:2-6

"Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;"

Continue - can you continue in prayer if you pray once a month when you get into a bind where you need some help? Doubtful. Continue or be constant in - the term is used of becoming an adherent to a cause - following a particular philosophy. It would seem to indicate a constant daily thing.

Continue in prayer watching - what are we to be watching for? I would guess this goes back to 3:4 and the second coming.

This kind of gives meaning to 3:2 "set your affection on things above."

Continue in prayer seems straight forward - pray without ceasing relates, but the thought surely of praying every chance you get would be the least we could see in the text..

"Watch in the same" may be a little more difficult. Just what is meant? Watch in prayer would be the thought but how do we watch in prayer?

Watch indicates watching that some great calamity does not overtake you or come upon you by surprise. Similar to folks in the coasts of Hawaii are always on watch for tidal waves - they have a warning system. Not that you keep your eyes on the water all the time, but be watchful - take due care.

Now, how do we watch in prayer? I would suggest that this may be in the thought of using our common sense and thinking through what we know as we pray.

Example: If you get a prayer letter from a missionary stating that the man is going to pick up a single lady missionary at the airport sixty miles away. Not to have a nasty mind, but that is asking for idle gossip and is an open temptation to some men/women. That is quite a good time to watch in prayer - pray that God will open the man’s eyes to the problem, pray that God will keep the situation from becoming a problem. Pray that the whole situation might become honoring to God.

Verse 3

"Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:"

Paul goes on to ask them to pray for him as well as "us" - others that are with him preaching.

If you want to pray - pray for the church folks - that they will have open doors to speak of the Lord.

In Ephesians 3:12 we are told that we can come to the Father with boldness. Hebrews 4:16 mentions the same concept. WE CAN GO BEFORE ALMIGHTY GOD IN PRAYER, but we ask for prayer to go before man to witness. Kind of a contradiction actually. What can we learn from this?

1. We are chicken at heart.

2. We fear man more than God.

3. We have a neat relationship with a mighty, yet neat God.

Why is it that we fear man so much? I think it goes back to the thought of selfless. We aren’t selfless, we are thinking of self - we don’t like

to be the odd person

to be looked down upon

to be rejected

to be thought less of

to be less than we think we are maybe?

Verse 4

"That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak."

Paul realized the importance of making the Gospel manifest or clear and concise. Let’s think about the gospel for awhile.

What is the Gospel? How do you put it precisely and succinctly?

What are the elements of the gospel? That which a person must hear to be saved. I would like for you to take a little challenge. We had a pastor once that passed out three by five inch cards and asked all to put down the gospel in twenty-five words or less. Something we could share with someone that was on their death bed.

Give it a try - the Gospel in twenty-five words or less.

Some things we should understand before we go further.

1. We can’t possibly talk a person into heaven.

2. We can’t possibly talk the wrong person (or the non-predestined) into heaven.

3. We can’t say anything that will cause a person to go into hell. If that person is to be a child of God HE WILL BE!

4. We may never lead anyone to Christ.

5. We may lead hundreds to Christ.

6. We are only a tool that the Holy Spirit uses to finalize the work that He has already been doing in the life.

7. There is no key verse or phrase that will bring the sinner to his knees before the Lord.

8. There is nothing we can do to save anyone. They must make a decision based on their knowledge.

9. Without the work of the Holy Spirit there is nothing that can be done to draw a lost person to Christ.

Let us imagine now for a moment or two. You have just come upon a very bad car accident. You run up to see if you can help. Someone points to a young man that is obviously near death and says "See what you can do."

As you talk with the man, you feel that he is lost and very concerned about his eternal destiny. Imagine that you have only seconds to share the Gospel with him.

How would you share the Gospel in 25 words or less.

Let’s look at some possibles.

Christ was crucified, buried and raised. Believe - ask for salvation. (10 words)

If you’ve lied you’re lost. Christ was God - crucified - buried - and raised for your sin. If you believe this ask Him to save you. (24 words)

Christ was perfect sacrifice for your sin - accept Him. (9 words)

Christ died for your sin. Ask for salvation. (8 words)

Let’s consider the twenty-four word try. Would it do the job? It might. How can we improve it?

"If you’ve lied you’re lost. Christ was God - crucified - buried - and raised for your sin. If you believe this ask Him to save you."

If you’ve lied you’re hell bound. (makes it 26 words)

Christ was God - was crucified for your sin - buried & raised. (makes it 27 words)

Accept this & you will be saved. (makes it 22 words)

Would you add to the front of the second line? "If you’re sorry" (makes it 25 words)

If you’ve lied you’re hell bound. If you’re sorry Christ was God - was crucified for your sin - buried & raised. Accept this & you will be saved.

Does this do it? NO for Christ is God whether they are sorry or not. Yes this is a real challenge!

Are you sorry? might work.

If you’ve lied you’re hell bound. Are you sorry? Christ was God - was crucified for your sin - buried & raised. Accept this & you will be saved.

Give some thought to this idea of setting down your faith in as few words as possible.

What are the essentials to salvation that we need to include in our witnessing?

1. Repentance for example is listed among the required items of witnessing by some, yet others leave it out because great texts of the scripture do not mention it in relation to salvation in the church age.

What are the pros and cons?

John’s gospel does not mention the term once while it emphasizes "belief" greatly.

1 Corinthians 15:1-58 does not mention repentance but states belief is the key. READ 1 Corinthians 15:1-8

What is the answer to this question?

What is repentance?

A change of mind. If I were to leave New York City to drive to California and while crossing Nebraska I decided, this is a dumb idea, and turn around to go back to New York I have had a change of mind.

If a person moves from a position of going to Hell or rejecting God to a place of accepting God and going to Heaven, then that person has had a change of mind. This requires belief and the result is change of direction.

I agree that repentance is a definite part of salvation. It seems that John was viewing those that believed as having had a change of mind or if you will "repentance." Paul in I Cor. is not laying out a full discourse on the Gospel - only reminding them of some of the things that they had placed their trust in.

Simple belief is not enough for it is possible to have a knowledge of facts in the head but not have a saving faith that those facts are going to save you.

As the driver in Nebraska made a conscious choice to change directions so must the lost person come to a point when he or she says yes - before I was walking against God and now I want to walk with God.

You don’t have to beat them over the head with a stick trying to get them to repent - but you should see to it that they have a change of mind toward sin and their previous life. This requires they understand their sin and their lostness.

2. Lordship Some feel that at the time a person accepts Christ he or she must also make Christ the Lord of their life. They must assume a master servant relationship. Others say, No that is an item of maturation and will come later.

What say ye?

Some possible help for the situation:

a. It would seem natural for Lordship to come, for that seems to be how it was in the early church.

b. It would seem to be our reasonable service according to Romans 12:1-2

c. It would certainly help the persons’ testimony before the world.

d. It says that we are bought with a price - we belong to Him that paid the price.

Is Lordship a pre-requisite to salvation?

I see the Master as purchasing and paying the price. We become a servant of that Master. Whether we serve or rebel is a matter of walk not salvation.

It would seem however that Lordship at the time of salvation would be a very distinct testimony of a true change of mind and turning to God.

3. Hell

Some say that Hell is something that is very negative and that it should not be used in witnessing. It is a detraction from the real decision of accepting or rejecting God.

Do you think Hell is a needed part of witnessing?

In the New Testament days Hell was an accepted truth as was heaven. Today many do not believe in Hell so they must be told of its existence and reality. Otherwise how can they properly understand the gulf that separates them from God?

We have to get them lost before we can get them saved, so to speak.

Other things that are needed that usually are not disputed:

4. Belief

5. Acceptance/Receiving

6. Sin

Let’s have some fun now and take these essentials and put down some scripture that we could use to show a lost person what they must do to be saved.

As we go through this why don’t you try to find references in your mind that would work and jot them down for your own information.


Rev 20:13-15 and 21:8b for some description. Also - speaking of the final judgment: 20:13. 21:8b "the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."


Acts 20:21 "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."

2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."


John 1:12 "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name;"

Acts 13:38-39 "Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses."

Acts 16:30-31 "And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."

Romans 1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."

1 John 5:13 "These things have I wrote unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."


2 Corinthians 11:4 "For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him."


John 1:12 "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name;"

Acts 2:41 "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."

Acts 11:1 "And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God."

1 Corinthians 15:1 "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and in which ye stand;"

Colossians 2:6 "As ye have, therefore, received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him,"

If you have pulled verses from your mind for these topics then you have the tools to share Christ with. If you did not have a verse for each jot down some of these and in the coming weeks take time to work out a few that will be easy for you to use with people.

We could give you a list of things to say and you could memorize it and it would work yet if you have some verses that you are comfortable with then witnessing will be more comfortable for you.


In the concordance there are three columns of references for "our Lord," "the Lord,” "the Lord Jesus Christ" and similar terms.

It would seem that He is to be Lord of our lives. This is probably post salvation information however.

Another item that we should mention which definitely is a post salvation item is FOLLOWUP!

Many failures in this area have caused great delays in the spiritual maturing of many Christians.

I was saved as a Senior in high school but was never discipled. Indeed, I was not told what I was to do as a Christian. I entered the Navy on a four-year enlistment and maintained the typical sailor image. I stood outside of a Christian Servicemen’s center in Vallejo, CA one evening but didn’t go in because I had no idea what a Christian Servicemen’s center was. I tried to read the Bible a few times because I thought that might help me but I started in the genealogies and really wasn’t too thrilled with that.

I have often wondered what would have happened if someone had taken only a few hours and told me some of the basics. Maybe I would have sought out a local church etc.

When you lead someone to the Lord take time if at all possible to disciple them. Cover some of the basics of the faith so that they can beware of the cults and wrong isms.


Bible Study

Security of the believer



Verse 5

"Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time."

Walk in wisdom. If we need wisdom we need to ask the Lord (James 1:5). We need to walk in wisdom as we live before the lost.

This passage seems to be saying pray - watch - walk before the lost so that you can reach them as soon as possible. Redeeming the time - redeeming the time God has given you.

Be very wise before the lost lest you lose an opportunity.

I am doing a very in-depth study on wisdom and this verse is using the word in a general way rather than speaking of true wisdom that some have. It is the goal for all believers, but is not saying that all are wise. I think this is a general use of the term wise and that this relates to all believers - be careful how you walk is the thought of the text.

Don’t blunder around and ruin your testimony before the world. Don’t do things that might bring dishonor to the Lord, don’t say things that might bring dishonor to the Lord.

We are to walk wisely that we might redeem the time. Make the time we have been given here on earth profitable for God, would be the thought of the text.

First of all we have no idea how long we have on this earth. We could be gone tomorrow. The problem is that we don’t always live this way. I could list a number of instances where someone has died with no warning at all. In the blink of the eye they were dead and had no more time. One of my wife’s friends and her husband were talking over the day in their living room. She heard a funny sound from her husband so she looked up to see him slumping - gone without a sign - without a warning - without having accomplished all he wanted to do in life. Redeem the time.

We have no idea when our time is to be, thus we ought to walk as though we were going to die at the next breath.

I feel this text speaks to the thought that we ought to live correctly so that at any moment we might be able to witness to anyone without worry of having to defend ourselves against accusation.

Verse 6

"Let your speech [be] alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man."

This verse lends credence to my thoughts on the last. Watch what you say! However Paul adds a little phrase that is of interest - season what you say with salt. What a neat thing to do.

I would relate this to watch for opportunities to salt the conversation - ways to drop spiritual thoughts into your talk with others.

I have a little trick that I like to show people. It is a properly folded piece of paper that ends up with a proper ticket to heaven.

I was doing this one evening when my wife’s folks were there, but I was showing the trick to a neighbor that was over for coffee. As I finished up the trick and showed her the right ticket to heaven, my father-in-law asked quietly, "Ricki, do you have that ticket?"

It was the perfect salt for the time and opened opportunity to witness. This is why we need to use a little salt with our talk.

The rest of the verse seems to bear this thinking out. We need to be ready to give answer for our faith at any moment, at any place to any that might ask.

If Christ is our only message then we will easily be able to share it, however, if we are living a message that contradicts Christ we probably will find it difficult to share the simple gospel.


I trust that this does not infringe upon someone’s copyright! I do not know the source of this method of witnessing. It has been used for many years.

Romans 1:16 The Gospel is for everyone that believes.

Romans 2:11 Everyone is equal before God.

Romans 3:10 God states that no one is righteous.

Romans 3:23 Everyone has sinned - none fulfill God’s requirements.

Romans 6:23 Sin requires death - However God has a better way.

Romans 5:8 Christ died for sinners.

Romans 10:9-13 A recap of what has already been shown.

Romans 8:35-39 This text can show assurance of the decision.


Romans 3:23 There is a gap caused by sin between man and God.

Romans 6:23 We will be paid for our sin, however God has provided a gift for our taking.

Revelation 20:13-15; Revelation 21:8 Speaking of the final judgment Revelation mentions this second death:

Ephesians 2:8-9 There is nothing that we can do to save ourselves - Not baptism, nor good works, nor prayer.

John 1:12 If we believe and receive Christ as the Bible presents him we will become His children.

Leviticus 1:4-5 As the Old Testament saint acknowledged the death of the sacrifice for "HIS" sin so we must acknowledge CHRIST’S death for our sin. His sacrifice was the only sacrifice that could satisfy God.

Hebrews 9:11-15

1 John 5:12-13 those that believe can be assured of their salvation.

Romans 8:35-39

Verse 7



Christ our Master builds us through prayer to service (vs. 12b).

Colossians 4:7-18; Colossians 1:7-8

"All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, [who is] a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:"

That would be a nice thing to have Paul say about you in public. In fact it is probably a fine example of what we ought to do now and then for those that serve in the church. Give them recognition for doing a good job. Giving them due respect for being a fellow servant. Seems many pastors act as though all that goes on in their church is due to their hard work, rather than being the sum of all the work of all the people involved in the church.

Verse 8

"Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;"

Paul is sending him to give report of Paul to the church as well as gather a report of the church for him. Not only is he to observe the church, but he is to give them comfort. This may be indication of the stresses that the believers were facing - Paul thought that they needed comfort.

Verse 9

"With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is [one] of you. They shall make known unto you all things which [are done] here."

Again we see the thought of a report of what is going on. There is great need for reports from the field. What are some of the reasons for these reports - say from a missionary you are supporting.

1. It gives you some idea if the worker is working. It is obvious that a dishonest worker is going to lie in his letters, but by the time we know we want to support a worker we usually have trust. We can know of what they are doing, what their needs are, and what we might be able to do for them.

2. This gives rise to the thought of prayer. Only if we know their needs can we pray specifically. I know we can pray in general and that is good, but we should have specifics for specific prayer - this is like going to war with shotguns. You can blast and hope you hit something, or you can go with a rifle and know that you are aiming at something specific.

3. Reports hold the worker somewhat accountable even though you are not there. They know that every month or so you are expecting to hear information about their activities for the time period before.

We supported some missionaries with a good mission for years. One of the things I liked about the mission was that each missionary went through a yearly evaluation with their area director. It wasn’t an interrogation, but was a setting of goals, desires, and listing of future activities. Each time they met they would go over these and see how things were going.

The area director then gave a written report to the contributors to that worker. This gave additional information about the quality of work that the person was doing. This was not to degrade or uplift, but to inform. A way to help make the worker accountable to their supporters.

Regrettably the mission decided this was not a worthy exercise even though they mouthed a strong local church accountability philosophy.

Verse 10

"Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)"

An encouragement to receive others that may come your way. What a proof text if one is needed to give traveling missionaries welcome.

One of the shocks of our years on deputation was the lack of welcome that pastors gave us. Only a very few times were we offered a place to stay, and those usually when we were going to be present more than one day for a conference. Normally housing was never discussed.

Many are the times that I would present our ministry to a church and have to drive all night to make it to where I was staying or to our home. This usually after presenting an A.M. message as well.

Yep, lived through it, and many were the most beautiful sunrises and early breakfasts that I thoroughly enjoyed. My personality is one that it did not bother me, but I have wondered at how missionaries traveling with families make it through from Sunday services to Wednesday evening services and from Wednesday to Sunday.

It is most important to me that one of the qualifications for elder is "hospitality" and so few pastors practice this today. (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8) In fact Titus says that he is supposed to love hospitality - most love the hospitality shown them, but seldom do they show it to others.

Verse 11

"And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only [are my] fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me."

He shares the reason for mentioning these men - they have been a comfort to him. Again this thought of recognizing those you work with as being profitable to you.

Not only is there application to pastors/leaders, but how about you Christian employers. I have worked for believers in the past and enjoyed a nice working space, but seldom have I received any real recognition for the good work that they have enjoyed from me - a kind loving word now and then would be beneficial to both the worker and the employer.

I might get theological for a moment - unto the Kingdom of God - Paul preached the coming kingdom all through his ministry. This book is late in his life and he still sees the Kingdom as a primary part of the ministry at hand. In Acts we see that even unto the end he was preaching the Kingdom. "Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him." 28:31

Verse 12

"Epaphras, who is [one] of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God."

A study of Epaphrus:

Colossians 1:3-8; Colossians 4:12-13; Philemon 1:23; Acts 20:28.

TITLE: Qualification may not mean quality - or - A lamb in lambs clothing is a lamb. A wolf in lambs clothing is a wolf. A shepherd in shepherds clothing is a shepherd, unless he’s a fink.

Let’s consider church leadership for a moment or two. This applies well to church leaders - pastors or missionaries that you are considering.

Please take a moment and read: 1 Peter 5:1-5; Acts 20:28

Lets say that you want to buy a car. Let’s say that you have enough money to buy any car that you want. Let’s say that you are setting out to buy that car of your dreams. Let’s say you are standing before the car salesman and you are about to tell him just what you want him to order. Let’s do that for a moment and let ourselves be worldly for a moment.

Yes, I’m telling you to be worldly for a moment. ONLY A MOMENT!!!!

What kind of car is it? What color is it? The salesman has a list of all the possible options -- what are you going have him put on the car? What radio will you have? On one of the news magazines they showed cars with stereos in them that cost more than the car. What engine will you get? What color will you order?

Now that the dreaming is over let’s think for a moment. If you had the money. If you had the desire. If you were committed to having this car would you accept delivery of a Maroon Chevette? NO! NO! NO!

If you were to set down a list of qualifications and desires for your church leadership would you settle for something less than you ordered?

You say no, but I believe that many churches today are accepting a standard that is much lower than they desire!! Or else their desires are far from Biblical.

The Word gives a great number of QUALIFICATIONS for church leadership and we all hear of these from time to time taught from Timothy and Titus, however the word also sets forth some Godly men as examples of some of the QUALITIES that these men should have.

I would like to explore some of these QUALITIES OF LEADERSHIP with you. I’d like to look for a few moments at EPAPHRUS. NO IT ISN’T A SKIN RASH!!!

Epaphrus was a man of God that the Holy Spirit moved Paul to include in the Biblical record only so very briefly. He is mentioned only three times - only five verses deal with Epaphrus yet we are able to see within these few verses a real man of God.


Please turn to the book of Colossians.

This book was written by Paul during a stay in Rome under Roman guard.

It was written about the same time as Philemon, Eph., and Philippians.

Read Colossians 1:1-8.


1. Soul winner: (vs. 5)

The indications are that he had given these people the Gospel. He may have started the Church. Some think that he may have heard Paul when Paul was at Ephesus in Acts 19:10.

This does not mean that he MUST be at every visitation get together, it does not mean that he is the sole soul winner in the church, it does not mean that he is to win souls from the pulpit. All of these are good things in and of themselves, but are not required.

I have known men that were excellent pastors and won souls only now and then, and I have known men that were excellent soul winners that would not have made good pastors. God fits the man for the job to which He calls him.

2. Teacher or discipler: (vs. 7)

Discipler: (vs. 5-7) (They knew Gospel, love, hope of heaven.)

We see here a pair of qualities which need to be used as a path to maturity for new believers.

Many of the evangelistic organizations today suffer in this area. They lead the person to Christ but never bother to teach them anything of the Christian life nor do they bother to lead or direct them to a sound church.

Recently a large campaign was held in Ireland. Instead of setting up a New Testament Church they turned the converts back to their Catholic or liberal denominational churches.

Indeed, in our churches today there is a real need in this area as well. I must wonder how differently my life might have been had I been discipled in any manner. The man that led me to the Lord gave me absolutely no information for my new life in Christ. He did not prepare me for anything. I went into the Navy for four years of typical sailor living, because I had no idea what the Christian’s life was to be like. I felt I should read the Bible, but started in the genealogies and that did not last long.

3. Faithful Minister: (vs. 7)

One who placed the body of believers as important - always there to help - to minister to needs - not far off or unapproachable. Servant: (Vs. 7)

4. Servant: (vs. 7) This man was a servant of Christ.

(From Exposition of Colossians and Philemon commentary by William Hendriksen; Grand Rapids; Baker Book House; 1964; p 191) "A servant of Jesus Christ is one who has been bought with a price and is therefore owned by his Master, on whom he is completely dependent, to whom he owes undivided allegiance and to whom he ministers with gladness of heart, in newness of spirit, and in the enjoyment of perfect freedom, receiving from him a glorious reward."

This man was a servant of Christ "ON OUR BEHALF"

Some translations read "your" but the concept is the same. He served Christ to THEIR benefit. He wasn’t in it for what he could get or be.

We met a man in Oregon that was planting a church. He was making his living pumping gas. He worked at the gas station and worked with the church for eight years. The church was his life and all that he did was to further the church. He was in it so that he could benefit those he ministered to. In this case Epaphrus was ministering to Paul in prison so he was benefitting Paul.

We have four qualities so far.

You might ask, "what is the difference between qualifications and qualities?"

Qualifications = "The act of qualifying, or the state of being qualified." (Funk and Wagnells)

Quality = "that which makes something such as it is: a distinguishing element or characteristic." (Funk and Wagnells)

We had a maroon Chevette. It had the qualifications to be a car but its quality was questionable. It had four wheels, a motor, a body, seats etc. but the dealer had it more in the first 90 days than we did. There is, you see a difference.

Let me illustrate the distinction that I am making, in another way. While in the service I was the only experienced tech on the ship. Indeed the only tech. We received one day fourteen men just out of electronics school. Our ship was only allowed five or six men so I decided that I would have it made with this many men under me. Not so!! These men were qualified as techs -- they had passed all the tests at school indeed some of them were very high in their classes. However, the quality of workmanship was very poor --- in fact within a month the ship was a total mess electronically. We went into the yards for a few weeks and it took me every spare moment to get all of the problems cleared up. One fellow had spliced cables together for me but the unit did not work so I looked at it and found that he hadn’t soldered the wires together.


5. Boastful of his church: (vs. 8 "also declared unto us your love in the Spirit")

He had been speaking to Paul of his church and its GOOD POINTS!

We were in a small church in Bend, OR a few years ago that we have spoken of to many of our friends. It was a church that had an over abundance of talented, excited, dedicated people. I could mention the fact that they met in an upstairs, that it was too small, or the fact that they didn’t have a piano but I didn’t. The positive was what was on Epaphrus mind. Indeed if you read the rest of the book you will find that the church had problems which Paul addressed. He was excited about his church. He was telling others of his church.

Our church people today need to get hold of that one!! Dwell on the positive. Do you tell others of your church? Are you making declarations about the great people here? Or do you dwell on the problems?

Let’s turn now for a moment to Colossians 4:12-13 - Read it.

6. Local boy: ("one of your number") Why haven’t we taken this idea to heart in our churches today? When we need someone to work with the youth we so often look outside our own assembly. Our church in Lexington, Nebraska took one of their own on as their youth man. Why not? They are used to the pastor, they fit right into the fellowship, and the kids know them already. They are already accepted in the community. You know their life. Their doctrine - their faults!

The New Testament church operated for the most part on people from their own group. All church leaders came from within not from without.

Not only for youth workers but why not for pastors or elders as your church government dictates? Train the men of your church so that when the pastor moves on you have a homegrown replacement on line. Send him to college if you need to. (Some might argue that he might leave - so what, you’ve trained a man to serve God. Train another!)

You don’t need to totally finance him but help as you can.

One church in Oregon that we’ve been to has laymen that are so trained by their pastor that they can, and do go out to fill the pulpit of churches without pastors. Their pastor is committed to training his people to do the work of the Lord as Ephesians 4:1-32 tells us to do!

7. Committed to Christ: (Bondslave - "servant of Christ" King James) He had placed himself at his Lords disposal for his Lords use.

Stephen in Acts 6:24 was a deacon. He soon was preaching and died at the hands of the Jews in chapter seven. He was sold out to serve Christ.

Paul seems quite impressed with this man.

Philemon 23 "Epaphrus my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus"

Colossians 1:7 "minister of Christ"

"dear fellow servant"

Colossians 4:12 "Servant of Christ"

I fear that commitment is a passing thing in our society and in our churches.

I have in recent months heard of several men turning down churches because of financial deficiencies. Finances should be involved in deciding if God is calling you to a church but it should not be the deciding factor.

Someone in chapel where I taught mentioned a man that was leaving his church because he wasn’t making enough. His salary was $48, 000 a year.

8. Thoughtful: He knew that Paul was writing to them so he ask him to greet them for him. This shows a certain amount of feeling toward the people. Epaphrus must have liked the people and felt that he wanted to greet them. God is interested in men that are interested in their people - TRULY INTERESTED!!

9. Prayerful: Paul didn’t need to mention this in his letter but he was impressed enough with Epaphrus prayers to encourage the people on with the fact that someone was praying for them. One of the encouragements we’ve had over the years is knowing that so many are praying for us!

We used to send out over 200 letters to enlist the prayers of the saints when we were missionaries - we needed it!

Paul, to the best of my knowledge mentions no one else as a prayer. He was impressed! By the way can you imagine going to prayer in a prayer meeting with this man and Paul present?

His prayer:

CONSISTENT: "always" - specific choice to do it on a regular basis. Luke 18:1 "Men ought always to pray and not to faint"!!

SPECIFIC: "for you" (from Bib Sac; p60; Jan-Mar 1979) I ran across something in a Theological Journal awhile back. "A story is told about an old pastor who every Saturday afternoon could be seen leaving his study and entering the church building by the back door, and about sundown he would be seen going home. Someone’s curiosity was aroused enough to follow one day and watch through a window. It was in the days when the family pew was an institution of the church. The old pastor was seen to kneel at each pew and pray for every member of the family that was to occupy it on the Lord’s day. WHAT A PRAYER LIST! He called each member by name as he poured out his heart to God for his flock. His was a ministry of power and his people reflected the grace of God on them. Blessed is that church which has such a praying Shepherd."

We need people committed to pray for the people that they minister to!

I ran across a quote from Charles Haddon Spurgeon that relates well at this point. "The minister who does not earnestly pray over his work must surely be a vain and conceited man. he acts as if he thought himself sufficient of himself and therefore need not appeal to God. Yet what a baseless pride to conceive that our preaching can ever be in itself so powerful that it can turn men from their sins and bring them to God without the working of the Holy Ghost."

I was at a church near Portland, OR years ago where the pastor was preaching on commitment and in his invitation he mentioned that he had prayed for each one in his congregation before the service. That is the type of men we need in our pulpits today!!

I had spoken in a small town church in Colorado and the pastor insisted on filling my gas tank. He filled the tank and we talked for awhile at the station. We said goodbye and he started walking toward his house. I told him I’d take him home. He said, "No, I’d rather walk." I insisted - he said, "No I’d rather walk - I know the people along the way home and I like to pray for them as I walk by their house. Some of them are lost and I want to pray for them."

SINCERE: "striving" This word comes from the athletic arena - used of the athletes intense effort in reaching for the prize. Verbal form of "agony" used of Christ’s prayer in Gethsemane (Luke 22:44) just before his arrest.

I watched the iron man triathlon a few years ago and the showed a woman that was near the finish line. She couldn’t control her legs and couldn’t walk so she got down on her hands and knees and crawled across the finish line - that is agony!

Daniel 9:1-27 probably is a prayer which involved striving - read it some time.

This term strive is the term we gain our English word "agonize" from. It was more than just a five minute quite time. He was agonizing over these people!

PURPOSEFUL: "that ye may stand" He was asking for Gods help in this for them.

It has been said, that if the church is ever going to be victorious it will have to learn to advance on it’s knees. REPEAT PRAYER IS NEEDED TODAY TO SAY THE LEAST!

10. Concern: Note should be taken of Epaphrus great concern for his people. He was very concerned with their need of maturing.

11. Sincere: Paul knew that this man was on the level -- he wasn’t just putting on a front to impress the folks.

Some Christians I meet today - church leaders - are so caught up in their airs that they don’t listen to the answers you give them to their questions. This is quite evident when you answer the same questions twice in your first conversation.

I recently overheard a conversation between a leader and a not so regular attender. The leader would ask a question and in the middle of the answer the leader would be interrupted and then when he returned to listening to the man he would ask another question. The man had not finished his first answer. This went on for about four cycles and finally the man walked away. The leader was not at all interested in the man - only in pretending to be interested.

We had a missionary over for dinner. He would ask a question and as you paused between sentences of your answer he would ask another question on another topic. A couple of times I went back and finished an answer then answered the next question in the hope of his picking up on what he was doing. He didn’t.

Some today feel a lull in the conversation is a mortal sin. Personally quiet is not all that bad at times indeed sometimes it is appropriate.

I recently heard of "Leather Man" in the eastern part of our country (Pennsylvania.) in the past. He was a man that never talked to anyone. He wore a heavy leather outfit and would not take help from anyone. He would eat from time to time when people offered. He had no known past and lived in caves in the wilderness. He never was known to speak yet people both children and adults would walk out to his camp and just sit with him by the hour. SILENCE IS GOLDEN AT TIMES!

In Alaska the one of the Indian tribes enjoys just sitting around in a circle in silence. They enjoy one another without talking.

12. I sense also that there is one more quality in this man. He was missions minded. He was on the forefront of missions. He was working with Paul and seemingly involved in church planting.

I fear many today fail to see past the ends of their own lives when they look at the harvest fields.

Few today are directing and leading their churches toward missions. Many are stunting their church’s growth and prosperity by stunting missions.

Missions is to be a vital part of all our lives. If you aren’t praying for and supporting missions then you aren’t in the mainstream of God’s program - you are on the outskirts and many churches there are on the outskirts!

Epaphrus was a man of many qualities!

The book of Philemon (vs. 23) tells us that he was a prisoner with Paul in Rome so we can see that he was committed to his Lord all the way.

As I review his qualities the two that stand out most are the qualities of prayer and concern for his people.

He was concerned about the people in his church as well as the people in nearby churches. The other churches mentioned are Laodicia and Hieropolis. These two cities and Colosse formed a triangle. They were only a few miles apart. (about 12) He had probably met these people - maybe had taught them indeed man have started the churches.

In Colossians 1:7 the term for deacon (minister) is use of Epaphrus. He evidently was a deacon at his church. History and tradition indicates that he went on to become an elder there at Colosse and later was martyred there.

I’m told that his name means "lovely" (from the Open Bible) A shortened form of Epaphroditus meaning "handsome or charming." A fitting name for such a man of God.


So many church leaders today are qualified yet I wonder how many of them are of this quality. This was a layman and he had these qualities!!

One of the first elder qualifications is "if a man desire the office." Many church leaders are not there because they DESIRE the office.

We do not have prayer warriors in many of our pulpits today.

We do not have concerned men in many of our pastorates today.

When I told my father that I was going to become a minister he said, "Well I guess there’s good money in that." At the time I thought yes, in the liberal denominations but not in the fundamental circles.

Today I feel that it is coming into fundamental circles.

I fear that the ministry is becoming an occupation to many young men. Not a bondslaves life of service for his Lord with his Lord’s people but a job and career.

Peter gives a proper picture of an elder in 1 Peter 5:1-4. Read it sometime.

Epaphrus had many qualities. Indeed these qualities should be aspired to by all believers, but they ought to be resident in all of our church leadership!

In the years to come I trust that you will look for

men of prayer

men of concern

men of service

men of Christ

men that are desirous of being a shepherd.

Recently I saw an interview of a shepherd here in the western U.S. They ask him of his life and he described the small wagon that he lived in month after month and the danger that he faced to protect the sheep. He spoke of the long months of crying over the loneliness before he finally got used to it. They ask him why he was a shepherd. His reply was this, "The sheep needed to be cared for and I chose to be a shepherd."

We need men in our pulpits and our board rooms that have chosen to be shepherds -- men that desire to care for the sheep.

May your future shepherds be so dedicated. May your future shepherds be so concerned.

Christ is pictured as a shepherd in the New Testament. May our shepherds be like our heavenly shepherd!

We must take our application one step further before we close.

If you were to compare YOUR life to that of Epaphras how would YOU compare?

Paul chose the term "SERVANT" for Epaphras:

(From Bib Sac; Jan-Mar 1979; p. 57) "The term proclaims the servant’s unconditional surrender of himself to do his Lord’s bidding. Such a one has learned to say,

"Oh, teach my will, my selfish will, To be completely thine.

"Oh, may I yield my all to thee; It is no longer mine.

"Oh, may my will, my stubborn will, Submissive be to Thine;

"The inward man obey with joy The law of love divine.

"No one who has not yet come to the place of full yieldedness of himself to his Lord will ever know the joy of fruitful service and effective intercession such as Epaphras knew. The yielded will lies at the basis of the God-used life."

If Paul were writing about you today could he use the term "servant" of you?

Can you in your own mind say, "My life is a God-used life."? If you can’t say "Yes" then you need to spend time getting to know your Master and seeing what He wants you to do.

Some brief notes on Colossians 1:4.

The term translated faith is the normal term for faith used in the New Testament. Thayer mentions of faith, "conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the New Testament of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it" (Thayer)

1:6 fruit is "karpophoreo" meaning bear or bring forth fruit. This is not soul winning, though soul winning is a part of it. Fruit in the New Testament would probably have the thought of anything that a believer does that is beneficial to his Lord and God, be it soul winning, be it teaching, be it pastoring, be it counseling, be it helping someone out, be it janitoring at the church, be it going to work every day with the thought of serving God in whatever manner possible.

1:7 minister is the term "diakonos" which relates to the church office of deacon. The Lord set up a system of church government via the New Testament which ought to be followed.

Church government is in place for a number of reasons:

(1) to oversee the church business

(2) to oversee the flock of God

(3) to assist in protection of the flock

(4) to assist in the discipline of the flock

(5) to see to it that God’s business is done in a Godly manner in His Church

4:12 servant is the term "doulos" which normally is translated servant. This is not "wife you serve me" servant hood, it is bought and sold servant hood. It is Christ bought, and your normal and reasonable service is to serve Him.

Laboring fervently is "agonizomai" which comes from the term we gain our term agonize from. Epaphras was not just working, he was agonizing for the people in prayer.

Verse 13

"For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them [that are] in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis."

As we deal with Epaphras we need to remind ourselves of chapter one’s reference to him. 1:7-8 "As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; 8 Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit."

I have challenged many a church to consider this man’s life as we can know it from these few verses in light of a pastor’s qualities. We often look into a man’s qualifications, and overlook his qualities or lack thereof.

Let’s just list the qualities of this man as we see them.

From the church at Colosse

Servant of Christ

Interested in the saints (asked Paul to greet them)

Hard worker that never lets up

Prayer warrior

Desires they walk with God

Desires their completeness as believers

He was zealous for them (Zeal is a four letter word, but not a bad word)

Fellowservant of Paul’s

Minister of Christ

Observant of the qualities of others

Sharing of good qualities of others

Kind of a hard act to follow. (See appendix two for more on this man)

Verse 14

"Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you."

We see Doctor Luke, an educated person following the Lord. There are detractors of the Lord that call Christianity the crutch for the lame, but we know that educated people can know the saving grace of the Lord as well as their need of it.

Don’t be afraid to speak to educated people about the Gospel if you are given opportunity. They need the Lord too, and most are wise enough to know their need if the Spirit of God has been there before you.

Verse 15

"Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house."

I applaud this man for having a church in his home. This is one of the most disruptive of occurrences, but probably the most blessed of ministries to have. We had a church meet in our home for several months and even though there were some definite difficulties it was a most rewarding thing to open our home to the believers to assist in their spiritual nourishment.

I believe it gave much more warmth for our fellowship as well as the learning times.

Verse 16

"And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the [epistle] from Laodicea."

This was an instruction to the church so many years ago, but we can know a couple of items from it.

First of all there was a letter from Paul to Laodicea - wouldn’t you love to know what he said to them? It was not included in Scripture - we know not why, it could be that it was lost before the Canon was discussed, or it may not have been up to the standard of the books of the Canon.

Secondly we can know that the heresy present at Colosse was also present at Laodicea.

Thirdly by implication we might assume that the heresy was not present at the church at Hieropolis since Paul did not tell them to circulate the letter to them. Laodicea was just a short distance to the northwest of Colossae and Heiropolis (4:13) was just to the north. The three cities make a nice equilateral triangle. Most likely the churches were quite familiar with one another.


Concerning the book of Ephesians possibly being the letter to the Laodiceans:

From the Net Bible at http://www.bible.org

"... yet the opening line of this epistle makes little sense without them ("to the saints who are and are faithful..."? or perhaps "to the saints who are also faithful," though with this sense the ousin [ousin] is redundant and the kaiv [kai] is treated somewhat unnaturally). What is interesting is Marcion’s canon list which offers the letter to the Laodiceans among Paul’s authentic epistles. This, coupled with some internal evidence that the writer did not know his audience personally (cf. 1:15; 3:2; absence of personal names throughout), suggests that Ephesians was an encyclical letter, intended for more than one audience. Does this mean that the shorter reading is to be preferred? Yes and no. A plausible scenario is as follows: Paul sent the letter from Rome, intending it first to go to Ephesus. At the same time, Colossians was dispatched. Going counterclockwise through Asia Minor, this letter would first come to Ephesus, the port of entry, then to Laodicea, then Colossae. Tychicus’ instructions may well have been for each church to "fill in the blank" on the address line. The church at Ephesus would have certainly made the most copies, being Paul’s home base for nearly three years. Hence, most of the surviving copies have "in Ephesus" in v. 1. But one might expect a hint of evidence that Laodicea also made a few copies: both Marcion’s list and Colossians 4:16 may well imply this. What is to account for the early Alexandrian evidence, then? These mss were probably made from a very early copy, one reflecting the blank line before each church filled it in. Although it is of course only speculation (as is necessary in a historical investigation lacking some of the pieces to the puzzle), this scenario accounts for all of the data: (1) "in Ephesus" in most mss; (2) Laodicea in Marcion’s list and Colossians 4:16; (3) the lack of an addressee in the earliest witnesses; (4) why the earliest witnesses’ reading must be rejected as too hard; and (5) why Paul seems not to know the readership. In sum, is "in Ephesus" original? Yes and no. Some address belongs there; ejn *Efevsw/ (en Efesw) is the predominant address; but several other churches also received this circular letter as their own. For this reason the phrase has been placed in single brackets in the translation."

Schofiled’s note that introduces Ephesians:

"Colossians 4:16 mentions an epistle to the Laodiceans. It has been conjectured that the letter known to us as Ephesians is really the Laodicean letter. Probably it was sent to Ephesus and Laodicea without being addressed to any church. The letter would then be "to the saints and the faithful in

Christ Jesus" anywhere."

Verse 17

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

Might we assume that Paul is helping the church hold someone in their group accountable? Would seem that is the thought. One must wonder why Paul felt this was a necessary comment to make. Spose he had heard something that made him question the work Archippus was doing - seems logical - also a heavy stroke of encouragement to give a guy - set the whole church on him to do a good job.

Verse 18

"The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace [be] with you. Amen."

Just place yourself in the place of Joe Colossian sitting in church hearing this epistle read for the first time. You must wonder how it must have impacted their lives. The encouragement, the teaching, the exhortation - what a heavy load to take home and consider as you went to work the next day.

I trust that we might want to give serious consideration to some of the principles that we’ve looked at in this brief study.

Just by observing what we read, what can we learn of Paul in these verses?

7. A believer (called him brother)

Recognizer of qualities of people

8. Interested in condition of others

Compassionate (wanted to comfort them)

9. Busy

10. Devoted to Christ (prisoner)

Recommends others

11. Needy (accepted comfort from others)

Laborer for the Lord

12. Willing to build up others

13. Willing to support others

14. Willing to allow others input to his writing

15. Willing to recognize others

17. Willing to confront others

18. Open to asking others for prayer




1:1 living by will of God

1:2 faithful

1:3 prayerful - thankful

1:4 love

1:5 hope laid up in heaven

1:9 know His will

1:10 walk worthily, please Him,

bearing fruit, good works

learning about God

1:11 steadfast

patient strengthens with power for work


1:12 thankful coheirs with Christ

1:13 delivered us from darkness

transferred us to the kingdom

of His son.

1:14 redeemed us

1:16 He created us

1:17 sustains creation

1:20 Christ reconciled all to God

through blood of Christ

1:22 reconciled us to Him

1:25 gave the church men

1:28 teach and admonish to holiness

2:1 struggle on behalf of other


2:5 disciplined, stable in faith

2:6 walk in Christ

2:7 overflow with gratitude

2:8 beware false teaching

2:10 made us complete

2:13 made us alive

forgave all sins

2:14 canceled all debt

2:15 disarmed the rulers

and authorities

2:18 refrain from self abasement

worship of angels


2:20 don’t follow worldly standards

3:1 seek things above raised us with Christ

3:2 set mind above not below

3:3 our life is hid in

Christ in God

3:5 consider your body dead to




evil desire

greed (idolatry)

3:8 put aside anger




abusive speech


3:12 put on heart of compassion chose us

kindness made us holy and beloved




3:13 bear with one another

forgive one another

3:14 put on love

3:15 be thankful


3:16 let Word dwell in us

teach and admonish one another

with thankfulness

3:17 do all in Christ’s name

give thanks

3:18 wives submit

3:19 husbands love your wife

3:20 children obey your parents

3:21 father don’t exasperate your


3:22 slaves do well to master

as unto Christ

4:1 masters do well unto slaves

4:2 devote selves to prayer


4:3-4 speak of Christ with charity

4:5 conduct self with wisdom to


4:6 season speech with salt


1:22 present us holy

3:4 will be revealed with Christ

3:6 wrath will come because of those things mentioned in verse five.

3:10 renew us to a TRUE knowledge.


Adoption Reward

Redemption Resurrection

Reconciliation Security

Creation Predestination

Spiritual gifts Holiness

Ecclesiology Eschatology

Forgiveness Perfecting

Sovereignty of God





1:9, 10 "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may 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;"

1:28 "And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ."

Bibliographical Information
Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Colossians 4". "Derickson's Notes on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sdn/colossians-4.html.
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