v1-6 - This opening passage is actually a continuation of chapter three, which began describing characteristics of God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved back in v12. Chapter four adds two characteristics:
Be devoted (literally: be full of might and power towards) prayer.
Even though physically your head may be bowed and your eyes closed, remain ever watchful as you pray.
Make the most of every chance you have with outsiders,
literally walking alongside them in life.
Paul writes that your conversation should be seasoned with salt. I like how the artist for today's headline graphic put it: this means that "what we say about Christ and about the Christian life should be made as appetizing as possible."
v7-15 - Paul was not a one man band. So often the letters he wrote end with him thanking multiple partners that pressed on toward the goal with him, and this letter to the Colossians is no different.
Some of these names represent people we don't know much about (notice the guy named Jesus in v11. It goes to show just how common that name was then).
Other names are quite familiar. Two of the gospel writers are mentioned: Mark and Luke.
One name that may not be familiar now, but will be more so tomorrow when we read the short letter tomorrow to Philemon: A slave named Onesimus, who's described here as "our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you (v9)." Social categories such as slave and free, rich and poor, etc., which have so much meaning here in this world have no meaning whatsoever in the Kingdom of God.
v16-17 - Even though we call Paul's epistles by the name of the church it was originally sent to (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, etc), these were open letters meant to be passed around so that all the churches could benefit. Verses like this one are just one of the reasons we can be certain that these letters written to people in a specific time thousands of years ago and a specific place thousands of miles away still remain authoritative for us today.
v18 - After dictating the letter to a scribe, Paul often signed them with his own handwriting.
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE:
In v6, Paul commands us to season our conversations with salt. I don't think it's a strong enough tie to assume that Paul had this in mind when he wrote Colossians, but interestingly Leviticus 2:13 commands that all of the grain offerings made to the Lord must be seasoned with salt. It is fascinating to see that Paul, guided by the Holy Spirit, used such similar language to Moses, and that our conversations with outsiders are described in the same way as offerings made to the Lord!
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: Just before he ends this letter, Paul passes along a specific message to someone named Archippus. Can you remember what the message is? (See verse 17.)
Suppose you were a Bible translator for a remote tribe on a faraway continent, and this tribe did not have any experience or knowledge of salt. How would you explain what salt is, so they could understand the meaning of verse 6?
Questions 1-2 taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God sovereignly controls all things and opens the door in preparation for the gospel message (v9)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask God to help you devote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful (v2)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: