In our study of Colossians chapter four, we see how the ministering of the gospel is a team effort. That team includes prayer warriors as well as a variety of people using their gifts and talents to serve. Paul closes this letter with a list of some of the team members and we will learn a little about them.
Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
In many manuscripts, this verse is included in chapter 3 as it relates to the earthly conduct of leaders. Paul reminds them (and us) that supervisors and leaders are going to give an account of their actions as we serve the Master.
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
Now, Paul gives a few last instructions about how we should operate while we are here and, as we see, it always comes back to prayer. We are called to pray constantly because that is how we get our instructions on our actions. He goes on to say that we are to be "watchful" and many have taken this to mean that we should lift up prayers and kick back to wait but this is actually a word of action like the setting of a guard. Many use prayer as a mask to hide laziness but that is not what Paul is saying here. Let us pray but let us also act on the Word that we have already been given.
And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.
Paul tells the Colossian believers to pray for those locally but asks that they also remember him in their prayers. We see from this that he understood that it was only through a work of God preparing a way that he could share the gospel. The same is true for us today in that we can only go through the doors that God opens for us. When we try to open them on our own, we usually end up kicking open a door that God hasn't prepared us to enter. Usually, when you kick open a door, those inside are not going to welcome you and so the ministry will be unsuccessful.
Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.
Paul asks for specific prayer in that he simply wants help from God to clearly proclaim the good news that Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead so that we may have eternal life. That is a very short presentation of the gospel but the message gets through because of the power of God. Today, many want to add a bunch of their words to the gospel in hopes of luring someone to salvation but that is not what Paul was called to do and it is not what we are either.
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.
Each person that we meet who does not know Jesus is an opportunity to share the good news. We are to be wise not only in the words that we say but also in our actions as they speak just as loudly if not louder than the words. That wisdom can only come from God through the working of the Holy Spirit within us.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
One of the biggest ways that we interact with others is through talking and here we are reminded to guard our tongues in order to speak the truth in love. This is a very big challenge for most of us as the apostle James described in his letter but we can do it through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts.
This final part of the letter to the Colossians contains a list of the people that worked with Paul in spreading the gospel. Tychicus was the pastor of the church in Ephesus and Paul was sending him to minister to the Colossian believers even though they were not a part of "his congregation". This can remind us that we are all a part of the same "team" which is the body of Christ.
He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.
Another member of this evangelism team was Onesimus whom we remember from Paul's letter to Philemon. He had been a runaway slave but was released for service to Jesus Christ. We are reminded from this that God can and does use those that many consider to be the lowly people of this world. He used Onesimus in a mighty way and He has prepared things for you to do as well (see Ephesians 2:10).
My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)
Aristarchus was from Thessalonica and had been a member of Paul's missionary team. He had been arrested in Ephesus when the riot broke out (see Acts 19). Mark (also known as John Mark) is a beautiful example of God's restoration power. In Acts 15, we saw a disagreement between Barnabas and Paul concerning this man and they, in fact, parted ways for a time. Now, we see that the relationship has been restored and they are in fact on the same team working for the Lord.
Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me.
We see that there were only a few Jews on this ministry team and we remember that most of them believed that they were God's chosen people and that nobody else could be included in the family of God. Surely, it was a comfort to Paul in knowing that some of his people (he was a Jew) were being saved through Jesus Christ. It is also interesting to note that this man Justus did not use his given name "Jesus" out of respect for the name given to the Son of God. In our world today, the name of Jesus is thrown about and even trampled as a curse word but we must remember that there is no other name in heaven or earth by which we can be saved. If we believe that, then, we should show the same respect to His name.
Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.
Epaphras had started the early church in Colosse. He was now in prison but still actively engaged in the battle by praying for the believers. It seems that we sometimes use every excuse in the book to explain why we are not actively engaged in the battle to win souls to Christ. Here, we are reminded that our surroundings or circumstances do not determine our actions as believers in Jesus Christ.
Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.
Other members of the ministry team included Luke (the same Luke that wrote the book of Luke) and a man that worked alongside him by the name of Demas. Paul was not so sure about Demas and so we do not know much about him.
Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
Although we do not know much about her, Nympha evidently opened her home to worshipers in Laodicea. This is the same church that Jesus called "lukewarm" in Revelation 3.
After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.
Although this letter was written to a specific group of believers, it had meaning and instruction for others as well. God even uses it for us today and the lessons are just as relevant.
Tell Archippus: 'See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.'
In his letter to Philemon, Paul called Archippus "our fellow soldier" and he was evidently a part of the local church that met in Philemon's home. Here, Paul urges him to complete the work that God had given him. The same message goes for each and every one of us, as Christians, in that we have all been given work to do by the Lord.
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
Paul assures the Colossians that this is an authentic letter from him even though he was in chains at the time.