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The Letter of Paul to the Colossians: Chapter 4

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1Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, for you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

2Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. 3At the same time pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, 4so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should.

5Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. d Or opportunity 6Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.

7Tychicus will tell you all the news about me; he is a beloved brother, a faithful minister, and a fellow servant e Gk slave in the Lord. 8I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know how we are f Otherauthorities read that I may know how you are and that he may encourage your hearts; 9he is coming with Onesimus, the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you about everything here.

10Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, as does Mark the cousin of Barnabas, concerning whom you have received in structions—if he comes to you, welcome him. 11And Jesus who is called Justus greets you. These are the only ones of the circumcision among my co‐workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. 12Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant e Gk slave of Christ Jesus, greets you. He is always wrestling in his prayers on your be half, so that you may stand mature and fully assured in everything that God wills. 13For I testify for him that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. 14Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas greet you. 15Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters g Gk brothers in Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16And when this letter has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you read also the letter from Laodicea. 17And say to Archippus, “See that you complete the task that you have received in the Lord.”

18I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. h Other ancient authorities addAmen

Notes:

d Or opportunity

e Gk slave

f Otherauthorities read that I may know how you are

g Gk brothers

h Other ancient authorities addAmen

Text Commentary view alone
Commentary spanning earlier chapters

5.22–6.9 : Rules for household relationships (cf. Col 3.18–4.1 ).

22–33 :

The subordination of wives to husbands is legitimized by analogy to Christ and the church.

23 :

Husbands are to imitate Christ's self‐sacrifice on behalf of the church (but cf. v. 28 ).

24 :

Wives are to imitate not Christ (cf. 4.13–15; 4.32–5.2 ), but the church as the obedient recipient of Christ's blessings.

26 :

Baptism is compared to the Jewish custom of a bride's prenuptial bath.

30–32 :

Mystery, the unity of Christ and the church as revealed through exegesis of Gen 2.24 . Note the scribal addition from Gen 2.23 (see note a).

6.1–4 :

Relations between children and fathers.

2–3 :

Ex 20.12; Deut 5.16 .

5–9 :

Relations between slaves and masters. Like wives, slaves are not to imitate Christ, but to obey their masters' divinely sanctioned authority; see Col 3.22–4.1; Titus 2.9–10 .

9 :

Masters must recognize their own subjection to God.

6.21–24 : Epilogue (cf. Col 4.7–8 ).

21 :

Tychicus, Paul's associate; see Acts 20.4; Col 4.7; 2 Tim 4.12 .

23 :

Whole community, the Greek “brothers” (note b) includes both men and women.

3.1–4.6 : Ethical implications.

3.18–4.1 : Rules for household relationships.

This passage idealizes the first‐century patriarchal family as appropriate for a community dedicated to Christ as Lord; cf. the more extensive theological justification in Eph 5.22–6.9 .

18–19 :

Wives and husbands. Never treat them harshly, alternatively, “do not be embittered against them.”

20–21 :

Relations between children and fathers.

3.22–4.1 :

Slaves and masters. The impartial judgment of God should motivate both slaves and masters ( 4.1 ).

4.2–6 : Final admonitions.

5–6 :

Conversation with non‐Christians should be pleasant (gracious), interesting, and appropriate (seasoned with salt).

4.7–18 :

Final greetings and instructions.

7 :

Tychicus, Paul's associate (Acts 20.4; 2 Tim 4.12 ), commended like Epaphras (cf. 1.7 ).

9 :

Onesimus, Philem 10–21 .

10 :

Aristarchus, Acts 20.4; 27.2; Philem 24 . Welcome him, cf. Paul's earlier conflict with Mark (Acts 13.13; 15.37–39 ).

11 :

The circumcision, theJews.

12 :

Epaphras, see 1.7n .

13 :

Laodicea, Hierapolis, cities located 16 and 24 km (10 and 15 mi),respectively, northwest of Colossae.

14 :

Luke, 2 Tim 4.11; Philem 24 . Traditionally identified as theauthor of the Gospel of Luke and Acts (see Acts 16.10–17 , etc.). Demas, 2 Tim 4.10; Philem 24 .

15 :

Brothers and sisters, see note g and Eph 6.23n . Nympha, not mentioned elsewhere, was probably anactive leader of the church that met in her home (see Philem 1–2 ).

16 :

The letter from Laodicea, a Paulineletter no longer extant, although some identify it with Ephesians.

17 :

Archippus, Philem 2 .

18 :

A finalword in the author's handwriting to authenticate the letter (cf. 1 Cor 16.21; Gal 6.11 ); the rest of theletter would have been dictated to a secretary (see Rom 16.22 ).

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