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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Colossians 4

 

 

Verses 2-4

Submission at Church: Religious Duties - Colossians 4:2-4 deals with submission in Church as a religious duty.

Colossians 4:2 — "Continue in prayer" - Comments - Andrew Murray says, "Little of the Word with little prayer is death to the spiritual life. Much of the Word with little prayer gives a sickly life. Much prayer with little Word gives more life, but without steadfastness. A full measure of the Word and prayer each day gives a healthy and powerful life." 98]

98] Andrew Murray, The Prayer Life (Chicago: Moody Press, 1912), 88.

Colossians 4:3 — "to speak the mystery of Christ" - Comments - This is the mystery that Paul referred to earlier in the epistle, which is Christ in us, our glorious hope.

Colossians 1:27, "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:"


Verse 5-6

Submission in the World: Civil Duties - Colossians 4:5-6 deals with our civil duties to be submissive before the world. We are to use wisdom in our relationships with them ( Colossians 4:5) while being gentle ( Colossians 4:6). One way to say it is that we do not have to trust them, but we do have to love them.

According to the parallel passage in Ephesians , verse 5 refers to the things we do by walking circumspectly, or walking in Wisdom of Solomon , while verse 6 refers to the things that we say.

Ephesians 5:15-16, "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."

Paul is telling us that what we do ( Colossians 4:5) and what we say ( Colossians 4:6) will be seen and heard by the world. Therefore, every area of our Christian conduct must be becoming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 4:5 — "Walk in wisdom toward them that are without" - Comments- We are to use wisdom to those who are outside the body of Christ.

Colossians 4:5 — "redeeming the time" - Comments- Darby reads, "Walk in wisdom towards those without, redeeming opportunities." Note the similar verse found in Ephesians.

Ephesians 5:14-16 says, "Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Note a comment from Frances J. Roberts referring to the meaning of the term "redeeming the time".

"My ageless purposes are set in Eternity. Time is as a little wheel set within the big wheel of Eternity. The little wheel turneth swiftly and shall one day cease. The big wheel turneth not, but goeth straight forward. Time is thy responsibility - Eternity is Mine! Ye shall move into thy place in the big wheel when the little wheel is left behind. See that now ye redeem the time, making use of it for the purposes of My eternal kingdom, thus investing it with something of the quality of the big wheel. As ye do this, thy days shall not be part of that which turneth and dieth, but of that which goeth straight forward and becometh one with My great universe. Fill thy days with light and love and testimony. Glorify and honor My Name. Praise and delight thyself in the Lord. So shall eternity inhabit thy heart and thou shalt deliver thy soul from the bondages of time." 99]

99] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 31-2.

God dwells in eternity, and not in the realm of time. Therefore, this time refers to the realm of Prayer of Manasseh , where we are bound by time. We are to use our time wisely, knowing that time will one day come to an end and we will be judged by how we used our time in this life.

Colossians 4:6 — "seasoned with salt" - Comments- Weymouth reads, "Let your language be always seasoned with the salt of grace, so that you may know how to give every man a fitting answer." In other words, everything that we say should be spoken, or sprinkled, with grace to the hearer.

Colossians 4:6Comments- When you have something to say, it may be the truth, but if it is not said in love, which is the seasoning mentioned here, then the hearers will reject it. In learning to manage people and relationships, a successful leader has to practice this truth daily. You can say the same thing in several different ways. It pays to think before you speak.

For example, a person will not enjoy eating food, unless is has a tasty seasoning. Neither will someone receive your words without the proper seasoning of love.


Verses 7-9

Commendation of Tychicus - In Colossians 4:7-9 Paul gives Tychicus, who was the letter bearer along with Onesimus, a commendation to the Colossians.

Comparison of Parallel Passages- Ephesians 6:21-24 is almost a word for word parallel to Colossians 4:7-7. These particular passages serve as the strongest witness to the connection between these two prison epistles. It testifies that Paul wrote them at the same time and sent them by the same messenger.

Ephesians 6:21-22, "But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts."

Colossians 4:7-8, "All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;"

Colossians 4:9 — "With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you" - Comments- The Apostolic Constitutions, a collection of ecclesiastical law that is believed to have been compiled during the latter half of the fourth century, gives us a list of the earliest bishops. This ancient document states that there was a man by the name of "Onesimus" who became the bishop of the church at Borea in Macedonia. There is little doubt that this is referring to the same individual, since the names of Archippus and Philemon , which also occur in the epistle to Philemon , are referred to in the same passage.

"Now concerning those bishops which have been ordained in our lifetime, we let you know that they are these…Of Laodicea in Phrygia, Archippus. Of Colossae, Philemon. Of Borea in Macedonia, Onesimus, once the servant of Philemon." (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles 7446) (ANF 7)

In addition, the name of Onesimus occurs in the epistle to Philemon.

Philemon 1:10, "I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:"


Verses 7-18

Final Salutations - In Colossians 4:7-18 we have the final salutation of Paul to the church at Colossi. It is very important for Christian to let others know how they are doing in the Lord. It is a great encouragement to see others being used mightily by God. He first commends Tychicus who bore this letter to the Colossians ( Colossians 4:7-9). He then sends greetings from his co-workers ( Colossians 4:10-14). He closes with a few instructional remarks ( Colossians 4:15-18).

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Commendation of Tychicus — Colossians 4:7-9

2. Greetings from Paul's Co-workers — Colossians 4:10-14

3. Closing Remarks — Colossians 4:15-18


Verses 10-14

Greetings from Paul's Co-workers - In Colossians 4:10-14 Paul sends greetings to the Colossians from his co-workers.

Colossians 4:10 Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister"s son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)

Colossians 4:10 — "Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you" - Comments - In Colossians 4:10 Paul warmly refers to Aristarchus as my fellowprisoner. This must include a reference to the incredible voyage that they experienced together in Acts 27, as they became life-long friends during that journey.

Acts 27:2, "And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us."

Paul uses the words "fellowprisoners," "fellowlabourers," and "fellowhelpers" in a number of his epistles. These words go deeper in meaning than just describing their personal relationships with Paul. It also describes their spiritual relationship with him in the sense that they were partners and partakers of Paul's sufferings as well as his heavenly rewards. In other words, these words describe people would receive the same rewards in heaven that Paul would receive because they stood with him during these difficult times.

Colossians 4:10"and Marcus, sister"s son to Barnabas" - Comments - Mark was the nephew of Barnabas ( Acts 15:39).

Acts 15:39, "And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark , and sailed unto Cyprus;"

Evidently, Barnabas sided with Mark because he was a relative. Blood relationships are very important in many cultures, more so than in the American culture.

Colossians 4:12 — "that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God" - Comments - The epistle of Colossians opens and closes with a prayer for them to fulfill the will of God in their lives.

Colossians 1:9, "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;"

Colossians 4:14 — " Luke , the beloved physician" - Comments - I am sure that Paul had a reason for calling this dedicated travel companion "beloved." My experience with Christian physicians in the mission field is that when they minister with a pure heart and treat an illness of someone I love, I feel a strong bond of love for such a servant of God who is reaching out to humanity in love. As I watch their hands at work after having been trained by years of study, I feel a deep respect for such person. Assisting in healing of the body is one of the most divine services to mankind besides ministering to their spiritual soul. I am sure that Luke attended to Paul's health on occasions and Paul responded with a deep love in his heart for this man's service.

Illustration - In 5-6 April 2012 I travelled with Matthew Crouch, and his team, which included Dr. R. J. Gosselin, the beloved physician of Paul Crouch, founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network. We travelled together in Nairobi, Kenya, and Juba, South Sudan, flying on the TBN private jet. This medical doctor's presence with the team of TBN as personal physician of Paul Crouch was touching to see as he played a leading role in the health of such a great man of God. He was dearly beloved by the Crouch family, having helped Paul Crouch properly diagnose the condition congestive heart failure during his later years after a season of misdiagnosis and personal health struggles. 100]

100] Information gathered from a personal conversation with Matthew Crouch on 5 April 2012.


Verses 15-18

Closing Remarks - In Colossians 4:15-18 Paul gives his closing remarks to the Colossians.

Colossians 4:15"and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house" - Comments - There were house churches in the New Testament. The common meeting places for the early churches were in the homes of those members who were wealthy or able to accommodate them. Thus, at Colossi the congregation met in the house of Philemon ( Philemon 1:2). At Ephesus the congregation initially met in the school of Tyrannus ( Acts 19:9) before later meeting in the house of Aquila and Prisca ( 1 Corinthians 16:19, Romans 16:5). At Corinth the church met initially in the house of Justus ( Acts 18:7), and later in the house of Gaius, as the congregation grew in number ( Romans 16:23). At Laodicea one congregation met in the house of Nympha ( Colossians 4:15). In Philippi the early believers probably met in the house of Lydia ( Acts 16:15). In Thessalonica the first converts probably met in the house of Jason ( Acts 17:5). This was the way Jesus Christ commanded His disciples in Matthew 10:11-13 to find a place of rest during their travels, by staying in the homes of those who received their message.

Matthew 10:11-13, "And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you."

Colossians 4:16 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.

Colossians 4:16 — "and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea" - Comments- Scholars can a number of views as to the origin of Paul's epistle from Laodicea. (1) Letter to the Laodiceans- This letter to the Laodiceans could be a letter that is no longer extant. (2) Epistle of Ephesians - However, many scholars do not believe that such an important letter that was intended to be circular could have been lost. Therefore, some suggest that could easily be referring to the encyclical letter to the Ephesians , which was at that time being read in the city of Laodicea. It becomes clear that both the Ephesian and Colossian letters were intended for general circulation. The letter to the Ephesians would have naturally passed through Laodicea before making its way to Colossi. This would account for Paul's words "read the epistle from Laodicea" rather than him saying "the epistle to Laodicea."

In addition, we do know that the theme of Colossians is the Lordship of Jesus Christ as head of the Church. It is very possible that Paul is referring to his recent epistle to the Colossians in Ephesians 3:3-4, which is a passage that briefly discusses the role of Jesus Christ in God the Father's eternal plan of redemption.

Ephesians 3:3-4, "How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)."

We do know that both epistles were sent to Asia at the same time by the same messengers. Paul's statement saying, "when ye read," implies that they are able to have it in their hands at the time of reading the Ephesian letter. It is possible that Ephesians 3:3-4 and Colossians 4:16 are referring to the sharing of these two epistles between their fellowship of churches in the region.

Colossians 4:16, "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."

Therefore, we would need to go to Colossians to get the full revelation of the riches of Christ Jesus.

(3) The Epistle of Philemon - Finally, Goodspeed suggests that the epistle from Laodicea is referring to Paul's letter to Philemon since he could have easily been a resident of Laodicea. 101] However, few scholars take this view.

101] Edgar J. Goodspeed, Introduction to the New Testament (Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1937), 102, 112.

Colossians 4:16Comments- The New Testament church, because of its Jewish heritage, immediately incorporated the Old Testament Scriptures into its daily worship. However, these new believers quickly realized that some of the Old Testament teachings, such as the Law of Moses, must now be interpreted in light of the New Covenant. We see this challenge taking place at the first council of Jerusalem in Acts 15.

Acts 15:1-2, "And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question."

In addition to the recognition of the Old Testament, the apostles realized that they had been given the authority to reveal the new covenant with as high authority as they held the Jewish Old Testament. According to 2 Corinthians 3:1-11 they were appointed as ministers of this New Covenant.

The major requirement for all of the New Testament writings to be considered "divinely inspired Scripture" was apostolic authority. These twenty-seven books had to have been either written by one of the twelve apostles, or either been imposed by these apostles upon the churches as an "instrument" of the Church, to be read and obeyed by all. When Paul tells the Colossians to read this letter and the Laodicean letter at their gatherings, he was essentially saying that his epistles were to be held on equal authority as the other Old Testament Scriptures that were also being read alongside these Pauline epistles. Thus, the fact that the Gospels and Paul's epistles were read in gatherings alongside the Old Testament Scriptures elevated them to equal authority as other sacred Scripture because these epistles contained commandments that were to guide their Christian lives. In addition, Paul's qualifications as a minister of the new covenant was elevated to a level higher than others due to the fact that God had given him the calling of writing much of the New Testament. Paul realized that his writings were on an equal level of authority as the Old Testament Scriptures. Therefore, Paul held the authority to speak on the level of authority that Christ Jesus spoke while on this earth. Note similar Scriptures that indicate how the New Testament writings became elevated by apostolic authority to become equal to the Old Testament Scriptures:

1 Corinthians 14:37, "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord."

2 Corinthians 3:6, "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."

1 Thessalonians 4:2, "For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus."

1 Thessalonians 5:27, "I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren."

2 Thessalonians 2:15, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."

1 Timothy 5:18, "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward."

1 Peter 1:12, "Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into."

2 Peter 3:16, "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."

Revelation 1:3, "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand."

Colossians 4:17 — "And say to Archippus" - Comments- The Apostolic Constitutions, a collection of ecclesiastical law that is believed to have been compiled during the latter half of the fourth century, gives us a list of the earliest bishops. This ancient document states that there was a man by the name of "Archippus" who became the bishop of the church at Laodicea in Phrygia.

"Now concerning those bishops which have been ordained in our lifetime, we let you know that they are these…Of Laodicea in Phrygia, Archippus." (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles 7446) (ANF 7)

Colossians 4:17Comments- Some scholars suggest that Colossians 4:17 implies that Epaphras, who was pastor of the Colossian church, had left Archippus in charge during his absence. His name is mentioned only one other time is Scriptures. Paul refers to him as a "fellowsoldier" when writing to Philemon , thus implying some form of Christian service and sacrifice.

Philemon 1:2, "And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house:"

Colossians 4:17Edgar J. Goodspeed uses the phrase "and say to Archippus" as a basis for concluding that Archippus was in the city of Laodicea, since the previous sentence reads, "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." He goes on to say that if Archippus was in Laodicea, so were Philemon and his wife Apphia. Goodspeed thus concludes contrary to popular belief that Philemon was a member of the church of Laodicea and not Colossi. However, his initial conclusion is weak and only speculation, since Paul could certainly write to the Colossians with a charge to one of its members adding in its closing remarks. For this is how most scholars interpret Colossians 4:17.

Goodspeed then suggests that Paul's charge to Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it," is a charge related to Paul's request to Philemon to receive back Onesimus. Since Archippus is in a position to influence this decision, Paul charges him to use this influence. 102] This having been said, there is much more evidence that Philemon was a resident of Colossae and not of Laodicea.

102] Edgar J. Goodspeed, Introduction to the New Testament (Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1937), 112.

Colossians 4:18"The salutation by the hand of me Paul" - Comments- Paul wrote his salutations as a signature of authenticity ( 2 Thessalonians 3:17) just like we place our signature today at the end of a document. He may have written entire epistles as indicated in Philemon 1:19. However, there are indications in six of his epistles that Paul used an amanuensis to write most of his letters.

Romans 16:22, "I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord."

1 Corinthians 16:21, "The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand."

Galatians 6:11, "Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand."

Colossians 4:18, "The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen."

2 Thessalonians 3:17, "The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write."

Philemon 1:19, "I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides."

Colossians 4:18 — "Grace be with you" - Comments- In a similar way that the early apostles were instructed by Jesus to let their peace come upon the home of their host ( Matthew 10:13), so did Paul the apostle open every one of his thirteen New Testament epistles with a blessing of God's peace and grace upon his readers. Matthew 10:13 shows that you can bless a house by speaking God"s peace upon it.

Matthew 10:13, "And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you."

This practice of speaking blessings upon God's children may have its roots in the Priestly blessing of Numbers 6:22-27, where God instructed Moses to have the priests speak a blessing upon the children of Israel. Now Paul closes his epistle to the Colossians by restating the blessing that he opened his epistle with in Colossians 1:2.

Colossians 4:18 — "Grace be with you" - Comments- In Colossians 4:18 Paul basically commends them into the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ, in much the same way that he did in the book of Acts. We find this statement at the end of all of Paul's epistles.

Acts 14:23, "And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed."

Acts 20:32, "And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified."

Colossians 4:18 — "Amen" - Comments- In the Textus Receptus the word "Amen" is attached to the end of all thirteen of Paul's epistles, as well as to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark , and to the General Epistles of Hebrews , 1,2Peter, 1,2John, and to the book of Revelation. However, because "Amen" is not supported in more ancient manuscripts many scholars believe that this word is a later liturgical addition. For example, these Pauline benedictions could have been used by the early churches with the added "Amen."

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Colossians 4:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/colossians-4.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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