4th July 2018

Colossians: Week 4 (Wednesday, July 4 2018)

 

Chapter 4

 

v1 Masters, give what is good and fair to your slaves. Remember that you also have a master. He is in heaven.

In verse 11 and in Galatians 3:26-28, Paul explained that all Christians are equal. Jesus Christ gives his new life to all Christians. However, God gives different amounts of authority to people. Verses 18-22 are like a short form of Ephesians 5:22-6:9. These verses show that Christ affects every part of a Christian’s life. Christ affects his or her home, family and work. Other people watch how Christians behave. So, Christians should be able to explain why they trust Christ (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Verses 18-19 God gives authority to husbands. A wife should choose to obey her own husband unless he tells her to do something that is wicked. God wants every wife to do this. But a husband must not be like a bad master. A husband must not control his wife. Paul had already warned against anger in verse 8. In verse 19 the Greek word for ‘love’ describes God’s pure love. When God loves people, he is generous to them. And he is kind. This is how a husband should love his wife. He should not be selfish or severe with his wife. Then his wife will be happy to obey him. A wife should respect her husband as a Christian. And a husband should respect his wife as a Christian. See also 1 Peter 3:1-7.

Verse 20-21 Children should completely obey their father and their mother. This is one of God’s 10 commandments (laws) that are in Exodus 20. Jesus obeyed his parents (Luke 2:51), although Joseph was not his physical father. Parents should teach their children about God. Parents should protect their children from evil and danger. Parents should help their children as they grow up. Parents should give their children discipline. This helps children to know what is right and what is wrong. But fathers should not be too strict. Instead, they should praise their children when they do good things. Fathers should encourage their children. Then their children will be happy. And they will grow up to become mature adults.

Verse 22 to Chapter 4 verse 1 The Romans ruled Israel. And they ruled all the other countries that are round the Mediterranean Sea. About half the people in Roman society were slaves. Paul did not say what he thought about this. There were not enough Christians yet who could try to change the society. Instead, Paul told the Christian slaves and the Christian masters how to behave. Christians began to affect society more as the message of the *gospel spread. Now, most governments in the world agree that people should not be slaves.

Slaves and masters are equal as Christians (verse 11). Christ is Lord and master of everyone. So, both slaves and masters have to obey their master, Christ. Slaves should obey all their human master’s commands. But they must not do anything that is against God’s laws. Christ has more authority than masters have in this world. Slaves felt that they were not important people. Nobody respected them. But Paul told them to accept their circumstances. In John 13:1-17, Jesus did a slave’s job. In Matthew 20:28, Jesus said that he had come to this world to serve people.

Christian slaves now serve Christ. This should affect the way that they work. Every person is important to God (Luke 12:6-7, 22-31). Often, slaves did not work in the proper way when their master was not watching them. But the Lord sees everything that every person does (Psalm 139; Matthew 28:20). Christian slaves should have a new attitude to their work. They should always work as well as they can. Their master may give them food and a place where they can live. But Christ’s rewards are far greater (see verse 4 and 1:12). Christ will give honour to slaves.

Verse 25 may refer to masters as well as to slaves (see Ephesians 6:9). God does not like bad work or poor work. God is a fair judge.

In Paul’s days, many masters were very severe. They made their slaves work very hard. Often slaves became weak and then they died. Slaves did not have any rights. Masters owned the slaves. Masters sold the slaves that they did not like. Christian masters now had to behave in a different way. They had a master in heaven. He was good and he was fair. Therefore, they should behave like him.

We can apply these same principles now to bosses and workers.

 

What Christians should do

v2 Continue to pray. And be aware of what you should pray for. Always thank God. v3 Also, pray for us. Ask God to give us opportunities to preach our message. We want to tell people God’s plan about Christ. I am in prison because I have already been doing this. v4 Pray that I shall be able to preach the message of the gospel in a clear way.

v5 Behave wisely among people who are not Christians. Use every opportunity in the best way. v6 When you talk, you should say kind things. Have good conversations. Answer every person in the right way.

 

Verse 2 Prayer is a very important part of every Christian’s life (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). When a Christian prays, he or she speaks to God. Christians can speak to God at any time. They do not need to go to a special place. They do not have to say special words. Paul prayed to God the Father through Jesus. The Holy Spirit teaches Christians how to pray (Romans 8:26-27). Christians should pray for other people as well as pray for themselves. They should not become lazy and forget to pray. Many people pray to God and ask him for things. But when God answers their prayers, they forget to thank him. Paul reminded the Colossians several times in this letter that they should thank God (see 1:2; 2:7; 3:15; 3:17). Paul is a good model for them at the start of this letter (1:3).

Verses 3-4 Paul often asked the Christians to pray for him (Romans 15:30-32; Ephesians 6:19-20; 2 Thessalonians 3:1). Paul *preached the good news about Christ in many places. But some Jews and rulers did not like what Paul preached. They put him into prison. He was probably in Rome when he wrote this letter (Acts 28). Paul said, ‘Pray for us’. Paul probably included Timothy (1:1), Epaphras (1:7) and other people who helped him. Paul could not go to visit places when he was in prison. Instead, he wrote letters. Several of these letters are now part of the New Testament. Today Christians benefit from what Paul clearly taught. In the past, God’s message had been a secret plan (see 1:26). So, Paul wanted to explain that secret plan in a clear way. He wanted everyone to understand the message of the gospel.

Verses 5-6 Many people do not know Christ. Christians live and work among these people. So, Christians should understand how God wants them to behave (1:9-11). They should show their new nature. They should not show their old nature (chapter 3). People listen to Christians and people watch Christians. People should be able to see how Christ changes a person’s life. Then, when Christians speak about Christ, other people will be more ready to listen.

‘Have good conversations’. In the *Greek language this says, ‘Put salt in your conversation.’ This means that conversations should be lively and interesting. If you put salt on your food, it tastes much better. Food without salt tastes dull. The message of the gospel is not dull. So, Christians should speak about Christ in an interesting way. People often ask Christians questions about God. So, Christians should always be ready to explain about Christ (1 Peter 3:15-16). They should do this in a kind way.

Paul finished what he wanted to teach his readers. He ended his letter with various personal greetings.

 

Paul’s final greetings

v7 Tychicus is my brother whom I love. He will tell you the news about me. He is my loyal helper. He serves the Lord with me. v8 I have sent him to visit you. He will tell you what is happening to us. He will encourage you. v9 I have sent Onesimus with him. He is a loyal brother whom I love. He belongs to your group. These brothers will tell you what has happened here.

v10 Aristarchus is in prison with me. He and Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, send their greetings. (I have already told you about Mark. Welcome him, if he comes to you.) v11 Jesus, whose other name is Justus, sends greetings to you. These men are the only Jewish Christians who work with me for the kingdom of God. They have comforted me. v12 Epaphras sends greetings to you. He comes from your city. And he is a servant of Jesus Christ. Epaphras always prays hard for you. He prays that you will be mature Christians. He prays that you will be confident. He prays that you will do all that God wants you to do. v13 I know how hard he has worked for you. He has worked hard for the people who live in the cities called Laodicea and Hierapolis. v14 Demas and our dear friend doctor Luke send their greetings. v15 Please give my greetings to the Christians at Laodicea. And greet Nympha and the church that meets in her house.

v16 Read this letter to the church that is at Colossae. Then make sure that someone reads it to the church that is at Laodicea. Then you must read the letter that I sent to Laodicea.

v17 Tell Archippus, ‘You must complete the work that God has given to you.’

v18 I, Paul, greet you. I have written this greeting myself. Remember me while I am in prison. May God’s grace be with you.

 

Verses 7-9 In these verses ‘brother’ means another Christian (see verse 1). Paul sent two men to Colossae with this letter. He said that both men were loyal to him. Therefore, the Christians at Colossae knew that they could trust these men. Paul wanted the Christians to know what was happening to him. In verse 8, ‘encourage’ means to comfort them. And it means that he helped them to be strong. Acts 20:4; 2 Timothy 4:12 and Titus 3:12 mention Tychicus. You can read about Onesimus in the *New Testament book called Philemon. Colossae was his home town.

Verses 10-11 Three *Jewish Christians sent their greetings. Aristarchus came from Thessalonica (Acts 20:4). Mark (who is also called John) went with Paul and Barnabas on their first journey to preach the gospel (Acts 12:25). Then Mark left them. So Paul did not trust him (Acts 15:37-39). In 2 Timothy 4:11, Mark was with Paul again. Paul had forgiven Mark. Paul trusted Mark to help him. Jesus was a common name for Jewish boys at that time.

Verses 12-14 Paul sent greetings from three people who were *Gentiles. Epaphras preached the message about Christ to the people in Colossae. He started the church in that city (1:7). Laodicea was about 16 kilometres (10 miles) west of Colossae. Hierapolis was about 10 kilometres (6 miles) north of Laodicea. All three cities were in the same valley. Epaphras worked for the Christians in all three cities. Epaphras was with Paul when Paul wrote this letter. And Epaphras still cared about these Christians. He could not visit them but he prayed hard for them. (Compare this with Paul in 1:29.) Epaphras wanted the Christians to oppose the false teachers. He wanted the Christians to obey God. He wanted them to become mature and strong as Christians. In Philemon 23, Epaphras was in prison with Paul.

Luke wrote the *New Testament books called Luke and Acts. We read about Luke and Demas again in 2 Timothy 4:9-11. Luke continued to help Paul while he was in prison. But Demas left Paul. This was because Demas ‘loved the world’. This means that Demas did not live like a Christian any more.

Verses 15-17 Christians did not meet in a special building at this time. Instead, they met in people’s homes. The Christians read aloud Paul’s letter in their meetings. This was how they learned more about Christ and about the Christian life. Then they took the letter to other churches. And they read what Paul had written to other churches. Paul wrote many letters to different churches. However, they lost some of the letters. We do not have the letter that Paul wrote to Laodicea. But some teachers of the Bible suggest that it may be the letter to the Ephesians.

In verse 17, Paul had a special message for one of the Christians at Colossae. It may be easy to start work. Sometimes it is difficult to finish it.

Verse 18 Usually Paul did not write his own letters. Paul said what he wanted to say. Then a skilled writer wrote down the words for him. Then Paul wrote just the final greeting himself. Paul had preached about Christ in many cities and countries. But he was suffering in prison because he had been preaching. ‘Remember me’ means ‘pray for me’. Paul finished his letter in his usual way as he asked for God’s grace for them. He started (1:2) and finished his letter with God’s grace. The message of the *gospel of Christ is the message about God’s grace to people.


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