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(Verse 1 continues from end of previous chapter).
4:1 Masters, treat your slaves with justice and fairness, because you know that you also have a master in heaven.
Masters (employers) are to pay their workers right and fair wages for the services that are rendered to them and are not to exploit their staff, since in the same way as they treat their workers, they will be treated by their Master in heaven.
Continue in Prayer
4:2 Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.
We are to pray constantly and with perseverance. We are not to become weary with our prayers, but we are to continue to ask. We must be earnest and definite in the requests that we make, giving thanks to God for the answers. Every Christian should make prayer a regular habit. We are to be serious in our prayer life, and not allow ourselves to let it slip. (Like the disciples who fell asleep in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:45-46).
4:3 At the same time pray for us too, that God may open a door for the message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.
What should we pray for? Since we are members of one body, we should remember the needs of God's people Eph. 6:18. We should pray for those who have gone forth with the gospel message, that God may give them opportunity to witness for Christ. We should also remember those who are in prison or who are suffering for their faith. Heb. 13:3
4:4 Pray that I may make it known as I should.
Paul asks the church to pray that whilst he is in prison, he will have opportunity to speak of the gospel of Christ and that he will do so clearly and boldly, as he ought to. Christ was not ashamed of him and he wished never to be ashamed of Christ (Philip. 1:20).
Walk in Wisdom.
4:5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunities.
Paul here speaks of outsiders, that is those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. This includes not only strangers, but also our own friends or family who are unsaved. We are not to allow them to use up or waste our time, for we must put this into the service of Christ. It is not our time but His.
4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone.
We are always to allow the grace of God in our hearts to govern the words that we speak. Our words should be pure- salt is a purifying agent - and pleasant - salt gives food taste. If our speech is always like this then we will always be able to give a humble answer to those who ask us about our Christian faith.
A Faithful Minister
4:7 Tychicus, a dear brother, faithful minister, and fellow slave in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me.
Paul was sending a fellow worker named Tychicus to the Colossians. He is described as being a beloved brother, a faithful minister of Christ's church, and a fellow servant with Paul of the Lord Jesus Christ.
4:8 I sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are doing and that he may encourage your hearts.
Paul sent him for a number of reasons. Firstly, so that he could let the Colossians know how Paul was and how things were going at Rome. Secondly, that he might know their condition and report it back to Paul and the others at Rome. Finally, he would build up and strengthen the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and encourage their hearts in Him.
4:9 I sent him with Onesimus, the faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you about everything here.
Travelling with Tychicus was Onesimus, a slave who had run away from Colosse, from the home of a man named Philemon, a member of the church. In fact, the church met at his house. Onesimus had been converted under Paul's ministry whilst in prison at Rome and Paul was now sending him home not as a slave, but as a beloved brother in the Lord. (See Philemon).
4:10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him).
Aristarchus was a Christian from Thessalonica who travelled with Paul on a number of his missionary journeys. He had been with Paul whilst he was in Asia (the region of Ephesus, Colosse,Laodicea etc.) He was now a prisoner together with Paul and wished to be remembered to the church. Also sending greeting was John Mark, nephew of Barnabus and writer of the gospel of Mark. Although as a young man he had forsaken Paul whilst on a missionary trip, he had now been restored, and Paul had formerly given a command to the church that they were to receive him in a worthy manner.
4:11 And Jesus who is called Justus also sends greetings. In terms of Jewish converts, these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me.
Another companion of Paul, Jesus Justus, also sent greetings. These three men were the only Jewish members of Paul's party that worked with him and had been of much comfort to him. It is sad to say that many Jews in Paul's day were his opponents,even those who professed to be Christians.
4:12-13 Epaphras, who is one of you and a slave of Christ, greets you. He is always struggling in prayer on your behalf, so that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I can testify that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and Hierapolis.
Epaphras is the next to send greetings. Himself a Colossian, he had started the church in Colosse and continued to labour for them much in prayer. Paul testifies that he is very zealous in his prayers- not only for them but for the other churches in that region. His prayer was that the believers might be strengthened and built up, becoming mature and fully assured, living their lives in a way fully pleasing to God and according to His will.
4:14 Our dear friend Luke the physician and Demas greet you.
Luke, the doctor, and Demas sent their greetings. Let us contrast these two men. In the end, when Paul was on trial for his life, only Luke, probably at the risk of his own life, stayed with him. Demas forsook Paul since he loved this present life. Perhaps things were getting too dangerous for him. So he left Paul and Rome to go to Thessalonica. The scripture makes it clear that if anyone loves this world he becomes an enemy of God, and the love of God is not in his heart (1 John 2:15-16 and James 4:4).
4:15 Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters who are in Laodicea and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house.
Paul sends greetings to the church in Laodicea and to a person named Nymphas, who allowed the church to meet in his/her home.
4:16 And after you have read this letter, have it read to the church of Laodicea. In turn, read the letter from Laodicea as well.
Paul had sent two letters, one to Laodicea and one to Colosse and he wanted the churches to read both.
4:17 And tell Archippus, "See to it that you complete the ministry you received in the Lord."
Paul conveyed a personal message to a believer in Colosse named Archippus. He was probably the son of Philemon. He was to make sure that he fulfilled the ministry which he had been given by the Lord. The Lord Himself gave warnings about this (Matt. 25:14-30). We are to put to use what he has given us - whatever it is or however great or small and insignificant it is - in his service. We are to place it in His hands for Him to use.
4:18 I, Paul, write this greeting by my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
Paul writes his closing greeting by hand (he had dictated the rest of the letter). It is hard to write with chains around your wrists! By saying "remember my chains" Paul is asking the church to continue to enter into his sufferings in prayer. It is good for us to remember that in spite of his faith in God and how mightily he was used, Paul was just a man, and that which he suffered was in no way lessened by the fact that he was a man of God. He wishes that God's unmerited favour would be with them. Amen.
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