1Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.
Paul doesn’t forget the masters. Just because a master-slave relationship exists doesn’t mean that the master ought to treat the slave however he wants. He is to be fair and just, giving him what is his due and not treating him like some animal. He ought to treat the slave as he would want to be treated if the roles were reversed. This is a great check for any person in authority. Imagine yourself in the role of the person under authority and ask yourself how you would want to be treated. After all, we are all those under authority because God is our authority. Just as He treats us lovingly, justly, and equitably, we too ought to treat others in the same way.
2Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;
3praying at the same time for us as well, that God will 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;
4that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.
Paul commands all of the believers at Colossae to devote themselves to prayer. It is not a passing activity before meals and before bedtime, but it is a lifestyle and a serious calling. They are to stay alert in their praying, not dozing off or letting their minds wander. They are to view it as a spiritual battle against the enemy. Paul is asking them to pray for him and Timothy specifically so that God would open up opportunities for the gospel to go forward. He didn’t assume that people would readily respond and that the preaching of the gospel would go uncontested. He knew better and had scars to prove it in addition to his present imprisonment. In order for the dead to come to life spiritually speaking and for the gospel to make sense to an unbeliever, a spiritual opening must be made by God. He must push back the forces of hell, the strongman must be bound, and then the heart can be taken for Jesus. Such happens in prayer and in the preaching of the Word. Sometimes we think that we can convert a soul. Paul, the great apostle and writer of much of the New Testament, didn’t think so. He needed prayer. He understood that the battle is ultimately spiritual and needs a spiritual push through the prayers of the saints. Paul wanted prayer so that the gospel would be clear to the listeners and that God would make it clear exactly how he was to present it. The content was always the same but how the message was encased was different depending upon his listeners. Some needed an introduction and orientation (Acts 17) while others needed to be taken through the Old Testament (the Jewish council). Paul needed wisdom to know how best to present the content of the gospel, and so do we.
5Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.
These are the words of a man with an agenda, a man with a mission. Whenever Paul talked with those outside of the church, he viewed it as an opportunity to share the gospel. His call to believers is to use their opportunities when they are around the unsaved as a means of working God into the conversation as God directs. The goal is always to share the gospel. We need to view our interactions with unbelievers as opportunities, and we must have an eternal perspective being mindful that the unsaved are headed for hell. What we do with the opportunity is up to us. We may cower in fear or we may take advantage of such divine appointments. We need wisdom for this task to know what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. Fortunately, this is why we can rejoice that, though we are weak, Christ in us is strong.
6Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
In all conversations, with believers and unbelievers alike, what we say and how we say it is to be gracious. It is not to be harsh, seeking a fight, full of unrighteous anger, or mingled with self-interest. What we say is to be nonjudgmental, kind, and from a tender heart that recognizes that it, too, needs the grace of God. Our speech is to be seasoned with salt in that it points people to the Savior. As the salt of the earth, we give those on the earth the chance to have their souls preserved. We give the world a taste of the eternal by pointing them to God and manifesting Jesus in their lives. All that we say should be carrying a fragrance of Christ and of His love. When we are depending upon Christ for what we are to say in a given circumstance, we can know how we should respond. There is something interesting about a person who listens well and says graceful things from his heart. For some reason, when a person feels loved unconditionally and unjudged and unthreatened, they will open up and say things that they wouldn’t normally say. It is this saltiness of the believer that should almost effortlessly draw people to the truth and to conviction of sin. After all, it is God’s kindness that leads to repentance, not His wrath. So, too, believers must manifest grace and kindness, not condemnation and even spite toward the lost.
7As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information.
8For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts;
9and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your number. They will inform you about the whole situation here.
Moving to more practical matters of administrative things and of news about his life and circumstances, Paul says that he is sending Tychicus to inform the Colossians of how he is doing. He hopes that by learning more of how God has worked in and through him that they may be encouraged and spurred on to more good works. Notice how Paul gives this servant of God credibility and encouragement in his endorsement of him. He says that he is a bond-servant of God, a fellow servant, and a beloved brother. These are high compliments that the sheep of the flock need to hear from the shepherds of the flock, assuming of course that they are true statements.
10Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas's cousin Mark (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him);
11and 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.
Paul passes on the greetings of another brother in Christ and co-prisoner with Paul, Aristarchus. Barnabas’ cousin Mark was to be welcomed, despite whatever issues had been before. This theme of fellowship and brotherly love runs deep through this letter. These people couldn’t pick up a phone and call one another, and their lives were daily a challenge, full of persecution and ridicule. Thus, they banded together and determined to know about the well-being of one another so that they could encourage one another to pray for each other and to fight the good fight of faith.
12Epaphras, 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.
13For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis.
Epaphras, evidently a Colossian who had traveled with Paul, is complimented as a bond-servant of Christ. I can’t get over how this concept of Christianity is lost. We are not free Christians to do as we please in the sense of abusing grace as license to sin. We are slaves of Christ by choice to do His will. Obedience is the mark of the bond-servant of God. Paul passes on his greetings also, and gladly informs the Colossians that one of their own always labors earnestly in prayer for his brothers and sisters at Colossae. Complimenting somebody for effective and faithful service does not steal their reward, as some would like to think. This is a recognition that is an encouragement for this man and a reminder to those in his home city that he is walking after the Lord. His prayers are like Paul’s in that he prays that the Colossians will stand perfect, being made mature in Christ and fully assured of the will of God. He desires them to not waver in doubt or be vulnerable to variations of theology and doctrine. He wants them to know the will of God, to follow the leading of Christ, to keep the commands of God, and to persevere.
14Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas.
Doctor Luke who had a high reputation among the believers passed on his greetings as well. Luke traveled with Paul often, suffering as he suffered, though he merely chronicles the life of Paul in the book of Acts. Demas also passes on his greetings. He is referenced in Philemon 24 and in 2 Timothy 4:10, in which he is said to have forsaken Paul. Even faithful disciples can lose heart and abandon the call of Christ, though they cannot lose their salvation. The bottom line is that Paul was not a lone ranger, trying to win the world for Christ himself, though if nobody had joined his cause, he would have tried to do just that because it was to that end that he was called. Paul took other godly men who had proven themselves as faithful and mentored them along the way. It is evident that they picked up his love for other believers and his burden to pray earnestly and always.
15Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house.
16When 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.
Paul also wants the Colossians to greet those who are meeting in the house church at Nympha’s home. This woman of God opened her home in godly hospitality for the church to gather. Greetings are also to be extended to the church at Laodicea, and the Colossians are commanded to read the letter that Paul had sent to them (often assumed to be Ephesians but not known conclusively).
17Say to Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it."
Archippus may well have been Philemon’s son (see Philemon 2). Paul challenges him to be faithful in the ministry in which God had called him. He had been graced with some gift to serve God as all believers are, and Paul wants him to see to it that he fulfills his calling. This is a challenge for perseverance and faithfulness despite the challenges and hardship of ministry.
18I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand Remember my imprisonment Grace be with you.
Paul emphasizes that this letter is his own, having signed off on it. He likely dictated the letter to someone who would write it down for him, another sign of brilliance and the grace of God on this man’s life. It is not easy to dictate something like this. He asks them to remember his imprisonment, not discounting his apostolic authority and being mindful to keep him in prayer. His example serves as one of utter devotion to God no matter what suffering it entails. He ends as he often begins by praying for them that grace will be with them. God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9), Christ is full of grace (John 1:14), and in Him we have all the grace we need. We must ask God to give us faith to harness His grace, and we can pray for grace upon grace (John 1:16).