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Colossians 4 Study Notes

4:1 Paul exhorted masters to deal justly with their slaves because they themselves have a Master in heaven. See also Eph 6:9.

4:2 Stay alert or “staying awake” refers to the mental attitude of expectancy and watchfulness.

4:3-4 An open door was a common expression for an opportunity for someone to do something (Ac 14:27; 1Co 16:9; 2Co 2:12). Paul asked believers to intercede for him so he could continue to spread the gospel. On mystery, see note at 1:26.

4:5-6 Paul’s final exhortation to the Colossians was that they would use wisdom in their interaction with unbelievers (1:9-10). The phrase making the most comes from a verb meaning “to buy up,” as if finding a bargain. Here it conveys the idea of making the most of one’s time spent with unbelievers.

4:7-8 Tychicus, a native of Asia, first joined Paul in Ac 20:4 and continued to serve alongside him (Eph 6:21; 2Tm 4:12; Ti 3:12). He may also have been the person who delivered this letter to the Colossians as well as the letter to the Laodiceans (see note at Col 4:16).

4:9 Onesimus, a native of Colossae, was a runaway slave (Phm 10). His name means “useful.”

4:10-11 Aristarchus, a native of Thessalonica, was one of Paul’s companions and his fellow prisoner (Ac 19:29; 20:4). John Mark, the Gospel writer, joined Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Ac 12:12,25). Paul and Barnabas parted ways because Paul did not want Mark along for their second journey (Ac 15:37-39). These verses provide evidence that at some point Paul became convinced again of Mark’s usefulness. Jesus who is called Justus was a fellow Jewish believer.

4:12-13 On Epaphras, see note at 1:7-8.

4:14 This is the only place in the NT where Luke’s profession is identified. Demas, one of Paul’s companions, later abandoned the gospel ministry because of his love for the world (2Tm 4:10).

4:15 Laodicea, ten miles from Colossae, also had a fledgling congregation of believers. Paul specifically mentioned Nympha, in whose home the Laodicean church met.

4:16 Once this letter had been read among the Colossian believers, they were to send it or a copy of it to Laodicea. Paul apparently wrote a letter to the Laodiceans that was also to be read in Colossae. The epistle to the Laodiceans was either another of Paul’s epistles (Ephesians?) or a letter that has not been preserved.

4:17 On Archippus, see note at Phm 2.

4:18 Although Paul probably used a secretary to write this epistle (cp. Rm 16:22), he often signed his letters himself as a mark of their authenticity and his affection for the recipients (1Co 16:21; Gl 6:11; 2Th 3:17; Phm 19).

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