18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord.
19 Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.
20 Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.
22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. 23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 24 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. 25 But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favourites.
4 Masters, be just and fair to your slaves. Remember that you also have a Master—in heaven.
2 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. 3 Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. 4 Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.
5 Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.
7 Tychicus will give you a full report about how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper who serves with me in the Lord’s work. 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you. 9 I am also sending Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, one of your own people. He and Tychicus will tell you everything that’s happening here.
10 Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin. As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way. 11 Jesus (the one we call Justus) also sends his greetings. These are the only Jewish believers among my co-workers; they are working with me here for the Kingdom of God. And what a comfort they have been!
12 Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God. 13 I can assure you that he prays hard for you and also for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis.
14 Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas. 15 Please give my greetings to our brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house.
16 After you have read this letter, pass it on to the church at Laodicea so they can read it, too. And you should read the letter I wrote to them.
17 And say to Archippus, “Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.”
18 HERE IS MY GREETING IN MY OWN HANDWRITING—PAUL.
Remember my chains.
May God’s grace be with you.
Paul here writes about the difference our new life in Christ should make in our relationships, so that the glory of Jesus is not only reflected in our individual characters but in our lives together, in community. He starts with the household codes that were common in the ancient world. Although from the vantage point of the 21st century, some of them seem archaic and reactionary, they were revolutionary at the time of writing and sowed seeds for future radical changes in familial and social relationships. He encourages the church to pray together and to consider their conduct and conversation when it comes to relating to ‘outsiders’ – those who were not Christians. Paul finishes by writing about many of his team members by name, both Greeks and Jews, showing the reality of close and committed working relationships in team. His words show real affection towards them, and from the team members to him and to the churches. This is a heart thing, not just an organisational thing. There are warm personal touches – encouraging an individual, referring to his own handwriting, an appeal for them to remember he is in prison for this gospel. The glory of Christ is earthed and incarnated in such personal and relational details. He ends where it all begins – with God’s grace.
To Think About:
- Note the references to prayer in this passage – he encourages them to be devoted to prayer (4:2) and to pray for him (4:3-4), and he mentions how Epaphras ‘prays earnestly’ (4:12) and hard (4:13) for them. One of the things that will knit us together in Christ is to pray for one another and with one another.
- The great apostle asks for help – this is an apostle of Christ, called and sent by God, who has preached the gospel for years across the Mediterranean world and is a towering figure of the early church. But he is not so ‘great’ that he can’t simply ask these new Christians at Colosse, who he has never even met, to pray for him (4:3-4).
- How can we reflect the glory of Jesus in our home life?
- How can we reflect the glory of Jesus in our workplace and among people who are not Christians?
- How can we reflect the glory of Jesus in the way we serve together as teams in church?
A final question
- What is the main lesson you take away from studying Paul’s letter to the Colossians?
Keep reading your Bible and discovering more about Jesus and our new life in him.
A PDF version of this study is available here.