People's New Testament
Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.
4:1 Final Exhortation
SUMMARY OF COLOSSIANS 4:
A Charge to Masters. Prayer and Prudence Commended. Tychicus, the Bearer of the Letter, Introduced. Onesimus Commended. Greetings from Brethren at Rome. The Epistle of the Laodiceans.
Masters, give to your servants. See notes on Eph 6:9. This verse ought to have been joined to the section of the preceding chapter in which mutual duties are enjoined. It should be remarked that such a charge as this is not found in all the profane writings of antiquity. Even in the pages of the moralists a slave was regarded as a chattel with which the master had a right to deal according to his will. The Christian rule, at once introduced into the church, was for the master to treat his servants as he wished to be treated by his Master in heaven, and to expect the same kind of treatment that he meted out.
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
4:2 Continue in prayer. Prayer ought to be regular, habitual. The Christian should every day have a season of prayer. See Lu 18:1 Ac 1:14 Eph 6:18.
Watch in the same. Watch that you pray aright, in earnest, and ask for what you ought.
With thanksgiving. Let thanks for mercies given ascend as you ask for new mercies.
Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
4:3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance. Note the spirit of this prayer; not a thought of his ease, comfort, or even safety, but only that he may be given full opportunity to preach Christ. So sublime a self-forgetfulness in a suffering prisoner is almost divine.
The mystery of Christ. The gospel of Christ. It was a mystery, i.e. a hidden truth until it was revealed. See 1Co 4:1 Eph 6:19 Col 1:26 2:2.
In bonds. See notes on Eph 6:20 Php 1:7.
That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
4:5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without. Let your conduct be prudent and sagacious. Do not provoke persecution.
Redeeming. Buying by giving up your own pleasure.
Redeeming the time. Using every opportunity and seeking time to do them good.
Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
4:6 Let your speech be always with grace. Use courteous speech, calculated to attract rather than to repel.
Seasoned with salt. Food without seasoning is insipid. Let the speech be so seasoned by grace that it will not be rejected with aversion.
That ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. So that your answer to every man may be such as the case requires. The idea is to always say what is pertinent and best for the occasion.
All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:
4:7 All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you. On Tychicus, see PNT Eph 6:21. He carried the Epistle to the Ephesians, and that to the Colossians on the same journey. He was probably a native of Ephesus, and was one of Paul's most trusted evangelists. See Ac 20:4 2Ti 4:12 Titus 3:12. It should be kept in mind that all Paul's Epistles were sent by messengers. There were no postal arrangements for carrying private letters such as exist in our times.
Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;
4:8 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose. Not only to carry letters, but to ascertain the state of the churches, and to instruct and comfort them. He came as an evangelist to help them on.
With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.
4:9 With Onesimus. A peculiar interest is connected with Onesimus because he is the subject of the Epistle to Philemon (Phm 1:10).
Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)
4:10 There follow Christian remembrances from several of Paul's companions.
Aristarchus, my fellow-prisoner. A Macedonian from Thessalonica (Ac 19:29 20:04 27:2). He accompanied Paul from Jerusalem to Rome. He is named in Phm 1:24.
And Marcus. The old companion of Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary tour (Ac 13:5,13).
Sister's son to Barnabas. It is now conceded that this should be, Cousin to Barnabas. Since in this year (probably A.D. 62) Mark attends Paul, it is inferred that Barnabas was dead.
Concerning whom. Mark.
Receive him. Perhaps these churches knew that at one time Paul had refused to have Mark in his company (Ac 15:38), and hence would not have received him cordially without such a commendation.
And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.
4:11 And Jesus, which is called Justus. We only know of this man that, like Mark, he was a Jewish Christian, of the circumcision, and highly commended by Paul.
Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
4:12 Epaphras. He is thought to have founded the church at Colosse. See PNT Col 1:7.
Who is one of you. A member of the Colossian church.
Always labouring fervently for you in prayers. In his absence from you he continues to labor fervently for you in his prayers.
For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.
4:13 Them that are in Laodicea. The sister city near at hand across the valley of the Lycus.
And them in Hierapolis. Another city close at hand, in which a church had been planted. Probably Epaphras planted it also.
Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.
4:14 Luke. The historian. Note that two, Mark and Luke, were both with Paul at this time. He was a Gentile.
Demas. Named in Phm 1:24. Named also, and not to his credit, in 2Ti 4:10.
Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
4:15 Nymphas. An inhabitant of Laodicea.
The church which is in his house, His in the Common Version; her in the Vatican MS, but the best authority renders it their house; i.e. the house of Nymphas and his family. In the first century no church building existed, and the Christians met in private houses. A portion, at least, of those in Laodicea met in the house of Nymphas, and are greeted as the church in their house (Revised Version). See also Ro 16:5 1Co 16:19 Phm 1:2.
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.
4:16 Likewise read the epistle from Laodicea. The Epistles addressed to these contiguous churches were for each other. Tychicus no doubt bore also a letter to the Laodiceans. Whether that letter was lost, whether it is the Epistle to the Ephesians, or whether the letter was a general letter to the churches of Asia, has been much discussed. My own opinion is that more than one copy of the Ephesian letter was made, one being delivered to the Ephesian church, and the other to the church at Laodicea. Space will not permit of a discussion upon this point.
And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.
4:17 Archippus. He is named in Phm 1:2. He had some important work, and was possibly a preacher.
The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.
4:18 The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Paul dictated his epistles to an amanuensis (Ro 16:22), but was wont to add a salutation in his own hand (Ga 6:11 2Th 3:17 1Co 16:21).
Remember my bonds. Three times this chapter he alludes to his chains, in Col 4:3,10,18. The thought is, Be willing to suffer for the gospel even as I do.