Colossians Chapter 4

by Matt Slick

Service (4:1)

1 Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.

This is a continuation of the previous chapter which concluded that God is a fair and impartial judge and how we are to work at our jobs with honesty and integrity.

Paul turns his attention briefly to Masters, employers, and tells them to treat those under their charge fairly because they too have a master in heaven, the ultimate and impartial judge, who treats them fairly.

Teachings about prayer (4:2-4)

2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;

The word "devote" is proskartereo which means to continue steadfastly, to adhere to, to be devoted to.  Paul urges us to be steadfast and continuous in our prayers.  We're not to slack in this practice.

There is no official statement on how many times someone is to pray or for how long, but the Scriptures are full of the accounts of God and the people praying in all circumstances and at all times of the day and night.

We are to keep alert in prayer and we must be watchful that we do not pay too much attention to the world and thereby neglect this privilege and necessity.

Being thankful in our prayers always puts us in a proper attitude before God because it reminds us of what he has done for us in Christ.


3 praying at the same time for us as well, that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned;

Paul asks the Colossians to pray for him.  One might wonder why Paul the mighty apostle would request prayers from other Christians.  Doesn't his apostleship mean that his requests before God carry more weight?  We cannot say that this is the case for Paul was a sinner as were the rest of the Colossians.  But, prayer is hindered by the sin of disobedience (Prov. 28:9), doubt (James 1:6), pride (Luke 18:11-14), selfishness (James 4:3), and wickedness (Psalm 66:18).

Likewise, those spiritual leaders on TV and radio are no more influential with God than you. For we are all sinners saved by grace and all our prayers go through Christ.

Paul knows the value of prayer and he requests that the Colossians pray that God would open the door for him to be able to preach and teach the word of truth.  Paul's heart is to preach the word of truth so that by it, people would hear, believe, and be saved from the righteous judgment of God.  "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ," (Rom. 10:17).

4 in order that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.

Paul desires to speak with the truth and wisdom of God, not from his own wisdom.  Only God is the true source of all wisdom and Paul desires that through prayer he might know the proper way to speak to those with whom he is imprisoned both guards and fellow inmates.

"For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ," (John 1:17).

Teachings about dealings with unbelievers (4:5-6)

5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.

"Conduct" is literally "walk" in the Greek.

Wisdom is a rare commodity in this world.  We have a lot of knowledge about a lot of things but often fail when it comes to properly using that knowledge -- which is why James tells us to pray for wisdom (James 1:5).  Just because we have a right answer about something does not mean we need to beat someone over the head with it.

The outsiders are the unbelievers and Paul is telling us that our conduct before them is very important.   He is telling us to use wisdom so that every opportunity provided by God might be fully utilized.


6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.

Grace is unmerited favor.  There might be times when unbelievers, or even believers, speak in harsh ways.  Whatever the circumstance, we are called to be gracious in our responses.

Salt was a preservative and it kept things from going bad.  Likewise, our speech must be gracious so that it preserves the situation and the opportunity and prevented from being lost.

Conclusion (4:7-18)
Commendation of Tychicus (4:7-9)

7 As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information.

Tychicus was the one who bore this letter from Paul who was in Rome in prison, to the church in Colosae.

Tychicus was from Asia, "And he was accompanied by Sopater of Berea, the son of Pyrrhus; and by Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia," (Acts 20:4).


8 For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts;

Paul wants the Colossians to know about the circumstances he is under.  Paul had been in prison but was doing quite well.  He sent Tychicus to let the people know not to worry.

Paul writes Colossians during his first imprisonment in Rome as recorded in Acts 28.

9 and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your number. They will inform you about the whole situation here.

Onesimus was most probably the slave mentioned in the book of Philemon.  It's probable that he was from the area of Colosae.

Conclusion (4:7-18)
Greetings from Paul’s Friends (4:10-14)

10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas’ cousin Mark (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him);

Aristarchus was a Thessalonian who was with Paul on his third missionary journey (Acts 19:29; 27:2) and is apparently in prison with Paul.

Mark was a companion with Paul on his first missionary journey (Acts 12:25).  However, it appears that Mark abandoned Paul on this journey but there seems to have been a reconciliation since Paul tells them to welcome him.  Paul mentions Mark favorably in 2 Tim. 4:11.


11 and also Jesus who is called Justus; these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision; and they have proved to be an encouragement to me.

Jesus was a common name of the time, as was Justus.  These three, Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus were Jews.

The word "encouragement" is also rendered as "comfort" and is the word "paregoria" which only appears once in the New Testament in this verse.

12 Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis.

Epaphras was also a Colossian and Paul graciously mentions him in his Ministry of prayer for them.

Of course Paul mentions that he desires to stand perfect and assured and all the will of God.

14 Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas.

This is the same Luke who wrote the gospel and Acts who was a doctor and may very well have attended to Paul during all sickness that he had in Galatia.

Paul’s Personal Farewell (4:15-18)

15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house.

The meeting of churches in homes was very common.  Synagogues were run by the Jews in this new sect of Christianity could only meet in people's houses.

16 And when this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea.

Did Paul consider his writing to the Colossians to be inspired scripture?  We don't know, but he surely must have considered it authoritative since he instructed that it be read in the church at Laodicea.  The letter from Laodicea might be the epistle of Ephesians.

17 And say to Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it."

It might be that Archippus (Philemon 2 ?) was not fulfilling the ministry to which he was a called.  It is not stated what that Ministry was.

18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my imprisonment. Grace be with you.

Paul's customary way was to write his letters with his own hand:

  • "The greeting is in my own hand—Paul," (1 Cor. 16:21).
  • "See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand," (Gal. 6:11).

Some have wondered that Paul's thorn in the flesh might have been a vision problem due to his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus in Acts 9, where he was blinded.  In Galatians 611, Paul comments about how he writes the epistle with large letters in his own hand.



About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.