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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

TOMS: Colossians 4

For an introduction to this series, click here.

October 5, 2007

Paul wraps up his epistle with various instructions: 
"Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." (4:2-6)

How many times is my speech "always gracious, seasoned with salt?" It is so easy to hurl insults, even if they are spoken in jest. It is an incredible thing, the power of words, both written and spoken. Of course salt, in this context, harkens back to what Jesus said about us being the salt of the earth. All of our speech is to be encouraging and full of Christian grace and love, both toward the lost world around us and fellow believers.

"Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here. Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him), and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, 'See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.' I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you." (4:7-18, ESV)

This is the rest of the chapter. There are some interesting names mentioned here. First Tychicus, who is also mentioned in several epistles. He probably delivered Colossians, Philemon and Ephesians. This passage is why some people believe the book of Ephesians was actually written to Laodicea. You notice that Paul suggests the Colossians read both letters, and Tychicus is mentioned in Ephesians 6:21 as the deliverer of the book.

Onesimus, of course, is the slave of Philemon whom Paul met in prison. Onesimus got saved and returned with Tychicus to Philemon. We will get more into his story when we get to the little epistle to Philemon.

Mark is the one who wrote the Gospel of Mark and who earlier caused the rift between Paul and Barnabas. That Mark was Barnabas' relative sheds a lot of light on why he wanted to bring Mark along. By this point, of course, the rift seems to be healed. Mark is one of Paul's trusted workers, and Paul encourages the Colossians to welcome Barnabas when they see him. And then of course there is Demas, who later left Paul. Perhaps he was not even saved. But we will not know until we get to heaven.

Likely Paul wrote a personal greeting at the end of his epistles in his own handwriting, which is why the last verse seems disjointed from the rest of the passage. 

We are flying through these short little epistles. We will start in Thessalonians tomorrow.

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