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Bible Commentaries
Colossians 4

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

Col 4:1. Masters who become disciples were under the authority of Christ as well as were their servants, hence were given instructions as to the proper treatment to be accorded them. Just and equal means they should furnish their servants with such wages as their labor deserved and their needs required. Remembering that they have a Master in heaven should prevent them from being unduly severe with their own servants, and cause them not to withhold from them their just dues.

Verse 2

Col 4:2. To continue in prayer denotes a life that is devoted to God, and that makes all activities for Him the subjects of Prayer. Prayer has to do with one's attention to the Lord, and watching pertains to the care a disciple will have as to his own conduct. Thanksgiving is appropriate because of the consideration God gives to the faithful child of His.

Verse 3

Col 4:3. Withal is defined "at the same time" by Thayer, which connects this verse with the preceding one. As they "continue" in prayer for themselves, Paul wishes them to include a prayer for him. Not for his personal benefit, but for the work of Christ in which he is engaged. He wished for a door of utterance, meaning an opportunity for speaking the mystery (Gospel) of Christ. For which refers to this mystery or Gospel, meaning that his bonds or chain was upon him because he wished to preach the Gospel, which was displeasing to so many Jews and others.

Verse 4

Col 4:4. A mystery is anything that is not known, whether complicated or simple in its character. Paul refers to the mystery of the Gospel in the preceding verse, now in this he wishes to be able to make it manifest or known to those with whom the "door of utterance" would bring him into contact.

Verse 5

Col 4:5. Walk in wisdom. Let the conduct be according to good judgment, considering the effect it will have upon them that are without, meaning the ones who are not in the church. The people of the world often have a better knowledge of how Christians should live than we realize. Redeeming the time means to make good use of our time, by devotion to the things that will build up a character acceptable to God.

Verse 6

Col 4:6. The instructions in the preceding verse have special reference to the bodily conduct of disciples, and the present one pertains to their language in conversation with others. Grace is from CHARIS, and it is used in the New Testament with reference to both the Lord's dealings with man, and to the dealings of men with each other. When used in the latter sense, it is defined by Thayer as follows: "Sweetness, charm, loveliness; goodwill, lovingkindness, favor." Salt has the quality of preserving that with which it comes into contact, and also of rendering it mere agreeable to the taste. Our verse means that by proper talk with people on the outside of the church, disciples may be true to the Gospel teaching, and yet not give unnecessary offense. Such a rule or attitude towards others will show that a disciple knows how to answer every man, and thus his good influence may be preserved as with salt.

Verse 7

Col 4:7. Thayer says Tychicus was "an Asiatic Christian, friend and companion of the apostle Paul." Funk and Wagnalls New Standard Bible Dictionary gives the same information, with additional notes that he carried the epistle of Paul to the Ephesians, and the same would apply to the present leller. It should be kept in mind that all Paul's epistles were sent by messengers, since there were no postal arrangements for carrying private letters such as exist in our times. When delivering the epistle to the Colossians, Paul expected Tychicus to give information as to the personal circumstances that his work in the Gospel had caused.

Verse 8

Col 4:8. Same purpose refers to the subject of welfare mentioned in the preceding verse. Tychicus was to inform the Colossians of the state of Paul, and he wished also to learn that of them. Comfort your hearts. Thayer defines the Greek for the first word, "to encourage, strengthen." In spite of the restricted situation surrounding the apostle, there was much in which to rejoice,- because of the great amount of good that he was doing for the Gospel's sake.

Verse 9

Col 4:9. Onesimus was the runaway slave of Philemon (Phm 1:10-16) who got in company with Paul in Rome and was persuaded to obey the Gospel. His master being a resident of Colosse, lie was sent back there with Tychicus as the epistle of Paul was sent to the church in that city. Who is one of you pertains both to his being a resident of the city, and also a brother in Christ. He was expected to join with Tychicus in reporting on the state of Paul.

Verse 10

Col 4:10. A number of brethren were in Rome when Paul composed this epistle, and many of them joined in sending friendly greetings to the Colossians. Aristarchus was a citizen of Thessalonica (Act 27:2), who became a traveling companion of the apostle (Act 19:29 Act 20:4). He became a fellow-laborer with Paul (Phm 1:24), and because of his zeal in the work he was finally taken captive by the authorities and made his fellow-prisoner as our verse states. Marcus is another form for Mark, who was in Rome, having been restored to the confidence of the apostle (2Ti 4:11). Sister's son is from ANEPSIOS, which Thayer defines, "a cousin." The Englishman's Greek New Testament renders the phrase, "Mark, the cousin of Barnabas." Ye received commandments. We are not told what those orders were, but the necessary inference is that they pertained to the attitude that was to be shown toward Mark. That accounts for the instruction to receive him if he came to Colosse.

Verse 11

Col 4:11. This Jesus is distinguished from others of the same name by giving us his surname; called [surnamed] Justus. Of the circumcision means they were Jews converted to the Gospel. These only refers to the Jewish Christians mentioned in this and the preceding verse. They were the only ones of that nationality who were fellow-workers with Paul, and who thus had been a comfort to him. Certain Gentile converts also co-operated with him, some of whom have been already mentioned, and others will be named later in this chapter.

Verse 12

Col 4:12. Epaphras had been associated with the church at Colosse, but when this epistle was written, he was in Rome and a prisoner on behalf of the Gospel. This is indicated in Phm 1:23, where Paul calls him his "fellow-prisoner." He joined in sending salutations to the Colossian brethren. Laboring . . . . in prayers for the "home congregation" was a natural thing because of his personal interest in those brethren. Perfect and complete mean about the same if used separately in various places. In the present use of the words, the former means to be fully developed, and the latter shows why; that it is because they would be fully supplied with necessary spiritual principles.

Verse 13

Col 4:13. Laodicea and Hierapolis were cities not far from Colosse, and Epaphras had expressed a fervent interest in the disciples at those places.

Verse 14

Col 4:14. Luke was a physician by profession, but became a devoted companion of Paul, both in his travels and also in his tribulations at Rome. He is also the writer of the Gospel record bearing his name in the heading, and of the book of Acts (Luk 1:3; Act 1:1). Demas was yet in Rome and devoted to the apostle also at the time this letter was written; he deserted him afterward (2Ti 4:10).

Verse 15

Col 4:15. The salutations of this verse are general as a whole, but Paul makes some specifications. Laodicea is mentioned in verse 13, and Nymphas was a disciple in that city. The original for house sometimes means "the inmates of a house, the family." This disciple had a group of others in his house who composed the church in that city, and Paul sends greetings to it through the Colossian brethren.

Verse 16

Col 4:16. Laodicea was not far from Colosse, and Paul directed the brethren to read this epistle among themselves first, then pass it on to the brethren at Laodicea to be read by them. There is some uncertainty as to what epistle is meant that was to come from. Laodicea, but whatever it was, the brethren at Colosse were instructed to read it. The common conditions in these two churches were such as to make the two epistles appropriate for both.

Verse 17

Col 4:17. Archippus is described by Thayer as, "a certain Christian at Colosse." He was a teacher in the church there, and Paul sends this exhortation to him to be expressed by the brethren on behalf of the apostle. The ministry means the service of teaching that the Lord had delivered to him.

Verse 18

Col 4:18. Paul occasionally did the writing of his epistles (Gal 6:11), but as a rule he dictated them to someone else, then signed his name to them which made them authentic. Remember my bonds. This was not written to obtain sympathy, for the apostle was not the kind of disciple to complain. The reference was for the benefit of the brethren, to stimulate their zeal on behalf of the Gospel.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Colossians 4". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/colossians-4.html. 1952.
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