Concluding Remarks
Tim Temple

Introduction

Turn with me, please, to the book of Colossians, chapter 4, verses 1 through 18:

Colossians 4

1Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.
2Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
3Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
4That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
5Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
6Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
7All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:
8Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;
9With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.
10Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)
11And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.
12Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
13For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.
14Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.
15Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
16And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
17And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.
18The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.

With this chapter, we come to the end of our studies in this New Testament epistle. I hope that you have enjoyed the study of this book as I have. I hope that it has been the blessing to your heart that it has been to mine as we have studied together during these weeks. It is such a personal, intimate communication from the Apostle Paul and so applicable, even today. We have noticed that it contains what might be considered the keynote of Paul's ministry and of his personal walk with the Lord, “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” as he states it in chapter 1, verse 27.

There is a sense in which everything else in this book is said with this statement in mind, but it is important for us to understand that these are not just external commands which are to be obeyed in our own human strength. The new man , as Paul calls it, is stressed over and over in the letter. Notice with me, for example, some instances of that in chapter 1, verse 21:

Colossians 1

21And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

In chapter 2, verse 10, we read:

Colossians 2

10And ye are complete in him…

Then down in verse 12 of chapter 2:

Colossians 2

12Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

In verse 13, of chapter 2:

Colossians 2

13And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

And in chapter 3, verse 1:

Colossians 3

1If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

Then in chapter 3, verses 9 and 10:

Colossians 3

9Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
10And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

You see, Paul was talking about a new way of life made possible because of a new relationship with Jesus Christ—“Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

This last, as you saw as we read it, is intimate and personal, and yet it is random. It shows Paul's naturalness. He touches on a number of things that any of us might say as we conclude a letter to some good friends, and this is one of the many things that indicate to us that Paul was not some stern, mysterious, other-worldly kind of a person, but he was a very normal and natural person that God used to write part of the New Testament.

As we look at this chapter, we are going to notice three things. First, in verses 2-4, “An Exhortation to Gratitude.” Then in verses 5-9, “An Examination of Graciousness.” Then in verses 10-17, “An Extension of Greetings.” Keep these things in mind as we go through this chapter.

An Exhortation to Gratitude

Let's notice first “An Exhortation to Gratitude”, as found in verses 2-4. The first subject that Paul takes up in his concluding comments is that of being thankful. Isn't it interesting that as he concludes the letter, that is on his mind? It is interesting to notice what verse 2 has to say about the background of thanksgiving. Let's notice verse 2:

Colossians 4

2Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

One of the most practical reasons for prayer is that later you can have the thrill of answered prayer. That is what Paul is saying here. This verse tells us one of the ways that we can be thankful for answered prayer. Notice in verse 2, the word continue . That word indicates that we should keep on praying until there is an answer, one way or the other. The word watch , is also very important in this verse. The word watch is a translation of a word which means “to be alert while you keep it up.”

A passage that illustrates this kind of praying, is Philippians, chapter 4, verses 6 and 7:

Philippians 4

6Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

The Living Bible , with which I am sure many of you are familiar, translates this verse in this way: “Don't worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God your needs, and don't forget to thank Him for His answers.” In other words, these verses are telling us that we should pray about things that we would otherwise be worrying about; and we have the wonderful promise that if we follow this practice, if we worry to the Lord, as it were, we will have the peace that comes from God. We will have it whether we think it is possible or not. It is the peace that passeth understanding.

You see, if we were really to pray about everything instead of worrying about things, if we were to pray about everything that we normally worry about, we would be alert in our praying, wouldn't we? We would be alert in our watching for the answer. That is what Paul has in mind, when he says, “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same.”

Specific Prayer

Verse 3 gives us the basis for thanksgiving. Notice:

Colossians 4

3Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:

An effective way to be able to give thanks for answered prayer is to have a specific object in your praying. If you just pray, “Bless the missionaries. God bless my family. God bless my church,” if you just pray in general ways like that, you're not really going to be able to thank God for answered prayer. Paul is saying, “Pray for me. Pray about something specific.”

There are several places in Scripture in which we are told specific things for which to pray. We won't take the time to turn to these places, but notice when you have the time, I Timothy, chapter 2, verses 1-2. There we are told to pray for those who are in authority over us, a very specific prayer. In Matthew, chapter 9, verse 38, we are told to pray that God would raise up Christian workers for His work. In Matthew, chapter 5, verse 44, we're told to pray for those who mistreat us. Can you imagine that? “Pray for those who despitefully treat you.”

Incidentally, notice that Paul was asking for prayer for his ministry, even while he was in jail. Isn't that interesting? You see, Paul wasn't limited by circumstances and surroundings. He said, “Pray for me. Pray for my ministry,” even though he was in jail at the time. His ministry wasn't over just because he was in jail.

An Examination of Graciousness

Then in verses 5-9, we have what we are referring to as, “An Examination of Graciousness.” The first thing that we notice in that examination of graciousness is the walk of the person who lives within the sphere of God's grace. Notice in verse 5:

Colossians 4

5Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

You might ask the question, “What does it mean to walk in wisdom?” Well, the answer is right here in this short verse. “Walk in wisdom, redeeming the time.” How do you use your time? What is it that is at the top of your priority? In many cases, try as we might, the good is the enemy of the best in the use of our time. We are involved in many good things, but sometimes those good things keep us from being involved in the really best things that should claim our time. The use of our time is a very, very important and crucial part of the Christian life. Every believer has a responsibility to God to be careful, to carefully analyze the use of his time, to have definite priorities. “Redeeming the time,” God says.

Then, the words of a person living within the grace of God, are described in verse 6:

Colossians 4

6Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

“Let your speech be always with grace.” Here is what we might think of as the biblical middle of what we saw there in verse 5. Our witnessing should not consist of always pestering people with the Gospel—cramming it down their throats, collaring them and preaching to them all of the time. That's not the way to walk in wisdom to those who are without. Our witnessing should be a matter of knowing how to answer every man, knowing how to answer various kinds of men.

Jesus is a good example of this principle. It is interesting to notice that Jesus always answered every case on its own merits. For example, Jesus did not talk to Nicodemus in the same way that he talked to the woman at the well. When you have the time, compare John, chapter 3, with John, chapter 10, and you will see that He approached both of those people differently. He talked to the disciples in a way that was quite different from the way that He talked to the Pharisees, for example.

Paul is a good example of this principle. He didn't use the same approach in a Jewish synagogue that he used with the Gentile philosophers on Mars Hill. And so it is not just a matter of having a little pat speech to give, and it's not a matter of constantly collaring people with the Gospel, but it is a matter of knowing the needs of the people that we speak to and answering different ones in different ways always with the same truth, of course, but with a different method of approach, perhaps, knowing how we ought to answer every man.

Speech Seasoned With Salt

Then notice, too, that our speech should be seasoned with salt. You know, sometimes it is possible to be too gracious. Did you ever think about that? Salt is a preservative. Salt adds a little sting sometimes. Salt makes things a little tangier sometimes. This is a reference to standing for the truth. As, for example, in Galatians, chapter 6, verse 1, we're told that if a brother be overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual restore such a one, considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. It may not be an easy thing to restore a brother who is in sin. It may not be something that you can do sweetly and softly. It is something that is going to require courage. It's something that is going to require some straight talk. It's something that is going to require some salt along with our grace. So remember that both things are true. “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt.”

In the book of Ephesians, Paul wrote to speak the truth in love. There is always that balance of being loving and gracious, but also being truthful and straight.

This examination of graciousness also includes what we might think of as a welfare report in verses 7-9: Speaking of words evidently reminded Paul of their need for a report from him, so he promised them one. You notice there in verse 7:

Colossians 4

7All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you…

We will not take the time to read these verses in detail, but notice with me a couple of interesting points about verses 7-9. First, notice that Tychicus was referred to as a fellow servant in the Lord. Tychicus was just a messenger boy from the human standpoint. He was just a messenger who carried letters from Paul to the Colossians and yet Paul said, “He is my fellow-servant. He is just as important in God's work as I am.”

Then in verse 9, we have a mention of Onesimus. He is the subject of the book of Philemon. He was a slave who had stolen something from his master. Probably he had run away to Rome, and he had run across Paul there in Rome and had accepted Christ under Paul's ministry. Paul is encouraging Onesimus to return to his master, Philemon, and he has the letter to Philemon as part of the New Testament, and he is probably carrying that letter to his master. In spite of that background of Onesimus, notice what Paul says about him. In verse 9, he refers to him as “a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you.” Regardless of background, you see, a person redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ is as good as any other believer in God's sight. “He is a faithful brother,” Paul says. “He is one of you.” From a human standpoint, that was not true, but from a spiritual standpoint, in the light of the grace of Jesus Christ, it was true. It was a wonderful welfare report that Paul gave.

An Extension of Grace

Finally, in the last third of the chapter, we have an “Extension of Grace,” from Paul to various ones there at Colosse. Notice in verses 10-17, the senders of greetings are mentioned in verses 10-14. In those verses various ones are mentioned by name and by description, but I think the application of this whole section is summarized in verse 11. Paul, after naming these people, says, “They are fellow-workers unto the kingdom of God.”

Then notice, the ministry of Epaphras in verses 12-13:

Colossians 4

12Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
13For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.

Evidently, as far as we can tell from this passage, Epaphras had never preached a sermon and yet Paul says, “He has an effective ministry.” Do you see what that ministry was? Notice how Paul describes it. In verse 12, he said he laboured fervently. In verse 13, it says he has great zeal. You see, the ministry of Epaphras was a ministry of praise for the Colossians, an effective ministry.

We need to remember, as we have seen again and again in this letter, that the ministry doesn't always consist of standing in the pulpit. The ministry doesn't always consist of teaching a Sunday School class or leading the music. There are many areas of ministry, and Epaphras had an effective ministry of praying for the Colossians.

Paul's Personal Greetings

Finally, we see the sending of Paul's own greetings, in verses 15-18:

Colossians 4

15Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
16And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
17And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.
18The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.

In these verses we have some indication of the early church structure. For example, we notice in verse 15 that they met in the homes. They are told to greet the church that met in the home of Nymphas. The early church didn't have buildings and facilities. They met in each others' homes.

Verse 16 indicates that they traded information and had fellowship with believers in other cities. They were to read this letter to the Colossians, to those who lived in Laodicea. Evidently Paul had written a letter to the Laodiceans which was to be read by the Colossians. So they had fellowship, they traded information, they shared the burdens with one another among the various cities and the various churches, perhaps within the same city.

In verse 17 is found a very important and wonderful truth, and that is that they encouraged one another. Paul has a specific word of encouragement for Archippus to fulfill the ministry which God had given him to do. We don't know what that ministry was, but the Colossians were to encourage him. And they in turn were to be encouraged by him, as he fulfilled his ministry. These are the kinds of things that took place in that early-day church.

The last two statements of this letter, I think, typify the philosophy of the Christian life which the Apostle Paul had. Let's conclude the letter by looking at those two last statements. You see what Paul said at the very conclusion of this letter. “Remember my bonds.” And secondly, “Grace be with you”: “Remember my bonds, and grace be with you.”

The Apostle Paul, the great man of God, the leader of this church, recognized his need of other believers and their prayers on his behalf. How much more important would it be for us to keep that same kind of thing in mind. Paul recognized that God's grace was the key to all that might come into their lives. “The grace of God be with you.”

Conclusion

Remember that this is the man whose ministry it was to reveal the mystery of “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” and as we leave our study of this little book, will you remember that that is the hope of glory? Christ in you is the hope of glory.


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