Specific Groups (3:18-4:1)
Prayer and Thanksgiving (4:2-4)
Towards Those Who
Are Outside (4:5-6)
Wives, submit, the Lord,
husbands, love, children, obey, fathers, bondservants, masters, prayer,
vigilant, thanksgiving, walk in wisdom, greet.
Paul repeatedly stresses our
accountability to the Lord in obeying these commands. This principle is
especially clear in the command to the bondservants. Whatever we do must be
done for the Lord’s sake with all sincerity.
Being vigilant in prayer means
leading a life of earnest prayer, being constantly aware of our spiritual state
and examining ourselves in light of God’s word. Those who are spiritually alert
do not indulge in pleasures and are not weighed down by the cares of this life.
Like trained soldiers, they guard themselves against the attack of the evil
one. Like faithful servants, they remain true to the Master’s commands and
serve the needs of everyone in the house. Such preparations and service entail
continual prayer and intercessions. This is why Paul exhorts us to “pray
without ceasing” (1Thess 5:17).
We need to pray for our own
spirituality (“being vigilant” in verse 2) and for the ministry (“praying also
for us” in verse 3). In terms of our attitude, we need to be watchful and
thankful in our prayers.
Those who are not of the
church. By 2:12, this will mean those who are not baptized into Christ (see
also Gal 3:26-29). In other places, they are those who are not named brother
(1Cor 5:11-13) and are called unbelievers (1Cor 6:6; 7:15) and Gentiles (1Cor
5:1; 3Jn 6,7), which is to be understood as spiritual
Gentiles in relation to those in Christ as spiritual descendants of Abraham (Col 2:11; Gal 3:27-29)
and as different from Gentiles in the flesh (Eph 2:11).
To preach the gospel to them so
that they too can be ‘in the Lord’. To this end, Paul exhorts the Colossians to
pray that ‘God would open … a door of utterance’ to speak about Christ (4:2-4).
Walk in wisdom (4:5): This
means that we ought to use the wisdom of God to discern what we ought or ought
not to do when with unbelievers for the purposes of trying to save the
unbelievers. Jesus taught us to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves
because we are as sheep among wolves (Mt 10:16). This means that while we
should be sincere in our speech and actions toward unbelievers, we also need to
have the discernment to know how to answer or react to those who are hostile to
the gospel message.
Redeeming the time (4:5): We
ought to manage our time wisely when we are with unbelievers. Our objective is
not just to have a good time with them, but, more importantly, to care for
them, help meet their needs, and lead them to Christ. At the same time, we
should not neglect spending time with fellow believers to encourage one another
and to do the work of God (Heb 10:25).
Good speech (4:6): gracious and
beneficial (seasoned with salt—see Mt 5:13); able to give a good answer to every
man regarding the truth (cf. 1Pet 3:15; 1Thess 2:2-5; Mt 10:19).
Tychicus (4:7,8): of Asia
and a travelling companion of Paul (Acts 20:4), apparently Paul’s letter bearer
and messenger —to the Colossians (4:7,8), the Ephesians (Eph 6:21; 2Tim 4:12)
and perhaps to Titus (Tit 3:12).
Onesimus (4:9): a runaway slave of Philemon who later converted to
Christianity and who was very dear to Paul (4:9; Phm
10-20), also apparently Paul’s letter bearer and messenger (4:8,9).
Aristarchus (4:10): fellow
prisoner with Paul (4:10), a Macedonian of Thessalonica and one of Paul’s
travelling companions on Paul’s second missionary journey (Acts 19:29; 20:4;
27:2), fellow laborer (Phm 24).
Mark (4:10): cousin of Barnabas
(4:10), family home used as prayer house (Acts 12:12), deserted Paul and
Barnabas at Pamphylia on first missionary journey
(Acts 12:25; 13:13), cause of Paul’s dissension with Barnabas (Acts 15:36-40),
Paul’s change of heart apparently because of Mark’s change of character (4:10),
reconciliation and found to be useful to the ministry (2Tim 4:11), believed to
be the author of the gospel of Mark.
Barnabas (4:10): an apostle
(1Cor 9:5,6), a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith (Acts 11:24),
received and recruited Paul (Acts 9:26-27; 11:25-26), fellow worker with Paul
on first missionary journey (Acts 13:2ff), probably sold all that he had to
work full-time for the Lord (Acts 4:36,37), a man who encouraged the weak and
would not give up on them easily (Acts 4:36; Acts 15:37-40), a moment of
weakness (Gal 2:11-13).
Jesus who is called Justus
(4:11): a Jew and fellow worker of Paul (4:11), two other references but
probably not the same person (Acts 1:23; 18:7). Since Jesus or Joshua or Yahshua was a common Jewish name, it is an interesting
conjecture that this man changed his name to Justus to avoid the embarrassment
of having the same name as God.
Epaphras (4:12): a Colossian himself, was one of
the early workers in the church there. He was with Paul at that time and kept
him informed on the situation of the church at Colosse.
Luke (4:14): author of the
gospel of Luke and Acts (compare Lk 1:3 and Acts
1:1), beloved physician (4:14), fellow laborer (Phm
24), friend to the end (2Tim 4:11).
Demas (4:14): a sad example of
a worker of God who fell in the end because he loved the world (Phm 24, 2Tim 4:10).
Nymphas (4:15): home used as a church (4:15).
Archippus (4:17): apparently a worker of God (Phm
2) who was slackening and needed to be reproved and reminded to fulfill the
ministry which he had received in the Lord (4:17).