Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Colossians 4

Verse 1

Masters, etc.

The best texts attach this verse to the preceding chapter.

Render ( παρέχεσθε )

The Greek implies on your part.

Equal ( τὴν ἰσότητα )

Lit., the equality. Not equality of condition, but the brotherly equality growing out of the Christian relation in which there is neither bond nor free. See on Philemon 1:16.

Verse 2

Continue ( προσκαρτερεῖτε )

See on Acts 1:14. Compare Acts 2:42, Acts 2:46; Acts 6:4; Romans 12:12; Romans 13:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Rev., correctly, continue steadfastly.

Watching ( γρηγοροῦντες )

See on Mark 13:35; see on 1 Peter 5:8. In Ephesians 6:18, ἀγρυπνοῦντες watchingis used, on which see Mark 13:33.

Therein ( ἐν αὐτῇ )

In prayer. Compare thereunto, Ephesians 6:18.

Verse 3

Door of utterance ( θύραν τοῦ λόγου )

Rev., better, a door for the world. Compare 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Revelation 3:8. See also entering in, 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:1. And the parallel passage, Ephesians 6:19. There may be an allusion to a release from imprisonment.

Verse 4

That I may make it manifest ( ἵνα φανερώσω )

Compare speak boldly, Ephesians 6:20. That connects with the clause that God-Christ.

Verse 5

In wisdom ( ἐν σοφίᾳ )

Compare Ephesians 5:15, as wise.

Those that are without ( τοὺς ἔξω )

As 1 Corinthians 5:12, 1 Corinthians 5:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:12. Compare τοὺς ἔσω thosewithin, 1 Corinthians 5:12.

Redeeming the time ( τὸν καιρὸν ἐξαγοραζόμενοι )

Compare Ephesians 5:16, and Daniel 2:8, Sept. The word is used in the New Testament only by Paul, Galatians 3:13; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 5:16. The compounded preposition ἐξ has the meaning out of; as Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us out of the curse,” etc., and out and out, fully. So here and Ephesians 5:16, buy up. Rev., in margin, buying up the opportunity. The favorable opportunity becomes ours at the price of duty.

Verse 6

Seasoned with salt ( ἅλατι ἠρτυμένος )

Both words only here in Paul. The metaphor is from the office of salt in rendering palatable. Both in Greek and Latin authors, salt was used to express the pungency and wittiness of speech. Horace speaks of having praised a poet for rubbing the city with abundant salt, i.e., for having wittily satirized certain parties so as to make them smart as if rubbed with salt, and so as to excite the laughter of those who are not hit (“Satires,” 1 x., 3). Lightfoot gives some interesting citations from Plutarch, in which, as here, grace and salt are combined. Thus: “The many call salt χάριτας gracesbecause, mingled with most things, it makes them agreeable and pleasant to the taste.” Seasoned is, literally, prepared. It is not likely that the fact has any connection with this expression, but it is interesting to recall Herodotus' story of a salt lake in the neighborhood of Colossae, which has been identified, and which still supplies the whole surrounding country with salt (vii., 30). The exhortation to well-seasoned and becoming speech is expanded in Ephesians 4:29; Ephesians 5:4, in a warning against corrupt communication.

Verse 7


Mentioned Acts 20:4; Ephesians 6:21; 2 Timothy 4:12; Titus 3:12.

Minister ( διάκονος )

Probably to Paul himself. Compare Acts 19:22; Acts 20:4. Scarcely in the official sense of deacon.

Fellow-servant ( σύνδουλος )

Used by Paul only here and Colossians 1:7, of Epaphras. By this term he designates Tychicus as, in common with himself, a servant of Jesus Christ. Probably not with a strict, but with a quasi official reference.

Verse 8

I have sent

Epistolary aorist. Tychicus carried the letter.

He might know your estate ( γνῷ τὰ περὶ ὑμῶν )

The correct reading is γνῶτε τὰ περὶ ἡμῶν yemight know the things about us, or our estate. Compare Ephesians 6:21.

Verse 9


See on Philemon 1:10.

The faithful and beloved brother

Whom the Colossians had known only as the worthless, runaway slave. See Philemon 1:11, Philemon 1:16.

Verse 10

Aristarchus, my fellow-prisoner

See on Philemon 1:23, Philemon 1:24. Unnecessary difficulty is made over the fact that the term fellow-prisoner is applied to Epaphras in Philemon 1:23, and not to Aristarchus; while here the case is reversed. It is not necessary to suppose that the two had changed places, or that the captivity was voluntary, if a literal captivity was meant. All the three terms fellow-prisoner, fellow-servant, fellow-worker - might be applied to both; and, as Dwight remarks, “Reasons unknown to us may easily have determined the use of one word or the other, independently of the question as to the particular time when they were in imprisonment.”


See on Philemon 1:24.

Sister's son ( ἀνεψιός )

Only here in the New Testament. Rev., correctly, cousin. The sense of nephew did not attach to the word until very late. Lightfoot remains that this incidental notice explains why Barnabas should have taken a more favorable view of Mark's defection than Paul, Acts 15:37, Acts 15:39.

Verse 11

Jesus Justus

Not mentioned elsewhere. The only one of these names not mentioned in the salutations of the Epistle to Philemon.

Have been a comfort ( ἐγενήθησαν παρηγορία )

Παρηγορία comfortonly here in the New Testament. Properly, an address, an exhortation: an exhortation for the purpose of encouraging: hence a comfort. Plutarch, in his “Life of Cimon,” uses it with πένθους griefa comfort, for grief; and in his “Life of Pericles,” of consolation for a dead son. Aretaeus, a medical writer, of the assuaging of a paroxysm. This word, and the kindred adjectives παρηγορικός and παρηγορητικός soothingare common in medical writings. So Galen, of soothing fictions, pretenses to quiet the diseased. Have been is, more strictly, have proved.

Verse 12

Laboring fervently ( ἀγωνιζόμενος )

Rev., striving. See on Colossians 1:29; see on Colossians 2:1. Compare Romans 15:30.

Perfect ( τέλειοι )

See on 1 Corinthians 2:6, 1 Corinthians 2:7; see on 1 Corinthians 1:28.

Complete ( πεπληροφορημένοι )

See on most surely believed, Luke 1:1; and compare full assurance, Colossians 2:2. Rev., fully assured.

In all the will ( ἐν παντὶ θελήματι )

Lit., in every will. Will means the thing willed, as Luke 12:47; 1Thessalonians href="/desk/?q=1th+5:18&sr=1">1 Thessalonians 5:18. Hence used sometimes in the plural, as Acts 13:22, shall do all my will ( θελήματα ), i.e., perform all the things willed by me. Ephesians 2:3, desires, strictly willings. So here the sense is, everything willed by God. The connection is apparently with σταθῆτε yemay stand. For a similar construction see John 8:44; Romans 5:2; 1 Corinthians 15:1; 1 Corinthians 16:13. As Meyer observes, this connection gives stand both a modal definition (perfect and fully assured) and a local definition (in all the will).

Verse 13

Zeal ( ζῆλον )

Read πόνον laborwhich occurs elsewhere only in Revelation 16:10, Revelation 16:11; Revelation 21:4, in the sense of pain. Πονος laboris from the root of πένομαι towork for one's daily bread, and thence to be poor. Πόνος toil πένης onewho works for his daily bread, and πονηρός wickedhave a common root. See on wickedness, Mark 7:22. In their original conceptions, κόπος labor(1 Corinthians 15:58; 2 Corinthians 6:5) emphasizes the fatigue of labor: μόχθος hardlabor (2 Corinthians 11:27; 1 Thessalonians 2:9), the hardship: πόνος theeffort, but πόνος has passed, in the New Testament, in every instance but this, into the meaning of pain.


The cities are named in geographical order. Laodicaea and Hierapolis 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. Hierapolis owed its celebrity to its warm mineral springs, its baths, and its trade in dyed wools. It was a center of the worship of the Phrygian goddess Cybele, whose rites were administered by mutilated priests known as Galli, and of other rites representing different oriental cults. Hence the name Hierapolis or sacred city.

Verse 14

Luke - Demas

See on Philemon 1:24.

The beloved physician

See Introduction to Luke.

Verse 15


Probably contracted from Nymphodorus, as Artemas from Artemidorus (Titus 3:12): Zenas from Zenodorus (Titus 3:13); Olympas from Olympiodorus (Romans 16:15).

The Church

Compare Philemon 1:2; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Acts 12:12.

His house ( αὐτοῦ )

Others read αὐτῶν their(so Rev., Lightfoot, Meyer). Others, as Westcott and Hort, αὐτῆς herregarding the name as female, Nympha. It is difficult, however, to know to whom the plural can refer. Some explain, Nymphas and his family. Meyer refers it to the brethren at Laodicaea and Nymphas, and thinks that the allusion is to a foreign church in filial association with the church at Laodicaea, and holding its meetings in the same place.

Verse 16

The epistle from Laodicaea ( τὴν ἐκ Λαοδικείας )

That is, the letter left at Laodicaea, and to be obtained by you from the church there. This letter cannot be positively identified. The composition known as the Epistle to the Laodicaeans is a late and clumsy forgery, existing only in Latin MSS., and made up chiefly of disconnected passages from Philippians, with a few from other epistles.

Verse 18

With mine own hand

The letter was written by an amanuensis, Paul adding his autograph.

Grace be with you

On the benedictions, see on 2 Corinthians 13:14. This short form occurs only here, 1 Timothy 6:21; 2 Timothy 4:22.


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The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Colossians 4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.