Colossians 4


The apostle now turns from the slave to address his master – this is a

continuation of ch. 3.


1   “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal:”

[bondmen] (Ephesians 6:8, 9; Matthew 18:23-35; Luke 6:31). The verb “show”

(pare>cesqe parechesthe-  afford, render) is middle in voice, and, as in Luke 7:4

and Titus 2:7, implies spontaneity — “show on your part,” “of yourselves.”

To< di>kaionto dikaion thejus”t -  a concrete expression, denotes the justice

of the master’s dealing (compare to< crhsto>n – to chraeston -  “the kind dealing

of God” - Romans 2:4) - Th<n ijso>thta isotaeta-  equity, fairness - gives the

principle by which he is to be guided.  The context suggests family and social

relationships of master and servant.  “Equity” is a well established

sense of the Greek word. The law of equity bearing on all

human relations Christ has laid down in Luke 6:31. Here is the

germinal principle of the abolition of slavery. Moral equity, as realized by

the Christian consciousness, was sure in course of time to bring about legal

equality. Knowing that ye also have a Lord in heaven (ch. 2:6;

Ephesians 6:9; I Corinthians 7:22; Philippians 2:11; Romans 14:9; Revelation

17:14; 19:16). (On “knowing,” see v. 24a.) “Ye also,” for Christ is “both their

Lord and yours” (Ephesians 6:9, Revised Text). The lordship of Christ

dominates  the whole Epistle - (ch.1:15, 18; 2:6, 10, 19). The assertion that

the proud master who deemed his fellow man his chattel is himself a mere slave of

Christ, sets Christ’s authority in a vivid and striking light. This

consideration makes the Christian master apprehensive as to his treatment

of his dependents. He is “in heaven” (ch. 3:1; Ephesians 1:21; 6:9; 4:10; Philippians

3:20; I  Thessalonians 1:10; II Thessalonians 1:7; Acts 3:21; John 3:13; 8:23;

Hebrews 9:24), the seat of Divine authority and glory, whence he shall soon return

to judgment (compare Psalms 76:8; Romans 1:18).







There are added some brief exhortations of a more general tenor, the

contents of which are summed up in the heading given to this section.


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

 (Ephesians 6:18; Romans 12:12; Philippians 4:6; I Thessalonians 5:17-18;

I Timothy 2:1; Luke 11:5-10; 18:1-8; 21:36; Acts 1:14; 20:31; 1 Corinthians

16:13; 1 Peter 5:8; Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38). “Steadfast continuance” in

prayer is specially illustrated in our Lord’s sayings on the subject in Luke (compare

Acts 1:14, where the same peculiar verb is used). In Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians

5:17-18; I Timothy 2:l, again “thanksgiving” is associated with “prayer.”

Wakefulness in prayer is enjoined by Christ in Matthew 26:41 and Mark 14:38:

compare the synonymous ajgrupnontev agrupnountes -  to be sleepless, used

in Ephesians 6:18; Mark 13:33; Luke 21:36; Hebrews 13:17. “To be awake” is

to be alive in the fullest sense, to have all the powers of perception and

action in readiness. The activity of the soul in prayer is to be both energetic

and incessant. “With [literally in, ejn, not meta<, as in Ephesians 6:18]

thanksgiving gives the pervading element or influence, in or under which the

prayers of the Colossians were to be offered (compare ch. 1:12; 2:7; 3:15,17).


3  Praying at the same time also for us (Ephesians 6:19;

Romans 15:30-32; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1,

2; 13:18). In Ephesians and Romans the apostle implores

prayer for himself alone, and dwells on his personal circumstances. Here

and in the Thessalonian letters he unites his fellow labourers with him in

the request. That God may open to us a door for the word (1

Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 2:1).

“The word” is the Word of God which the apostle preaches

(Colossians 1:5, 25; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; Galatians 6:6; 2

Timothy 4:2; Acts 16:6); and “a debt” is wanted, in his present

difficulties, through which that Word may freely pass, such as he speaks of

in 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12 (compare Acts 14:27;

Revelation 3:8). It is fanciful to give “door” here the sense of

mouth.” The “opening of my mouth,” in Ephesians 6:19, expresses

the subjective freedom (corresponding to “as I ought to speak,” ver. 4);

the door for the word,” the objective liberty desired by St. Paul in his

imprisonment. To speak the mystery of Christ, because of which also I

am bound (ch.  1:23-29; Ephesians 6:19; 3:1-13; 4:1;

Philippians 1:12-14; Philemon 1:9; II Timothy 2:8-10;

Acts 20:22-24). Were his prison door once opened, the apostle would

be able freely to preach the gospel to the Gentiles — for this “the mystery

of Christ” chiefly signifies ( ch. 1:25-29; Ephesians 3:1-8;

I Timothy 2:3-7.) (On “mystery,” see note, ch. 1:26.) It is

this very mission which makes him long for freedom, that keeps him a

prisoner (Ibid. v.23; Ephesians 3:13). He is in the strange

position of an “ambassador in chains” (Ephesians 6:19; Philemon

1:9-10: compare II Timothy 2:9). This “I am bound” (singular) shows

that the “for us” of the former clause designedly includes others with



4  That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.”  (Ephesians 6:20;

II Corinthians 2:17; 4:1-6; 5:11, 5:20-6:10; Romans 12:6; II Timothy 2:24-26;

3:10; Acts 20:18-21, 27, 33-35). This clause qualifies the last; the “open door”

is to be asked for the apostle, that he may make effective use of it. The mystery

 has been made manifest by God in the mission of Christ (ch. 1:27; 2:15, note;

II Corinthians 5:19); but that manifestation has to be made known to the

Gentile world (Ephesians 3:9; II Corinthians 2:14; Romans 10:14). To this end

he had received a special manifestation of “the mystery of Christ”

(II Corinthians 4:6; 5:19; Galatians 1:15-16;  Acts 9:15-16; 22:14-15, 21;

26:16-18). How the apostle conceives that he “ought to speak” appears from

the parallel passages (see especially II Corinthians – chapters 5 and 6; and

Acts 20).



5   “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without,” - (Ephesians 5:15-17;

I Thessalonians 4:12; 5:15; I Corinthians 10:32; II Corinthians 4:2; Titus 2:8;

I Peter 2:12,15; 3:16; Matthew 10:16). (On “wisdom,” see ch.1:9, note; 1:28;

2:3; 3:16; this was a chief need of the Colossian Church.) “Those without,”

as opposed to Christians — “those within the pale;” a Jewish mode of

expression:   compare I Thessalonians 4:12; I Corinthians 5:12-13; I Timothy 3:7.

From a different point of view, they are designated “as others” in Ephesians 2:3;

I Thessalonians 4:13; 5:6. This injunction appears in a different form and

position in Ephesians. Standing at the close of the writer’s exhortations, and

followed up by the direction of the next verse, it is more pointed and emphatic

here“redeeming the time.” – or “buying up each (literally, the) opportunity

(Ephesians 5:16; I Corinthians 7:29; Galatians 6:10; John 9:4; 11:9-10; Luke 13:32;

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). In Ephesians 5:16 the reason is added, because the days are

evil.” In Daniel 2:8 (LXX) the verb ejxagorazomenoi exagorazomenoi - to buy

out or up, a word of the market) has precisely this sense and connection, and the

idiom occurs in classical writers. The verb is middle in voice: “buying up for

yourselves,” “for your own advantage.” In Galatians 3:13 the compound verb is

somewhat differently used. The opportunity is the fit time for each step of a

well-conducted walk, the precise juncture of circumstances which must be

seized at once or it is gone. (I would like to recommend The Preciousness of Time

by Jonathan Edwards - # 6 – this web site – CY – 2011)  This wary promptitude is

always needful in dealing with men of the world, both to avoid harm from them and

in seeking to do them good. The latter thought, it may be, connects this verse and

the next.


6   “Let your speech (literally, word) be alway with grace, seasoned with salt,”

(Ephesians 4:29, 31; 5:3-4; Titus 2:8; Matthew 12:34-37; Luke 4:22; Psalm 45:2).

- lo>gov – logos - “Word” -  has its common acceptation, as in ch. 3:17; 2:23;

Titus 2:8; II Timothy 2:17; James 3:2.  (ejn ca>riti –- en charati - “With grace” )

Gives the pervading element of Christian speech; as “in wisdom,” of Christian

behavior (v. 5). “Grace,” here without the article, is not, as in ch. 3:16, where

the article should probably be read, “the (Divine) grace,” but a property of

speech itself, “gracefulness” the kindly, winning pleasantness which makes

the talk of a good and thoughtful man attractive: compare Psalm 45:2;

(44:3, LXX); Ecclesiastes 10:12 (LXX) - “Salt” is the “wholesome point and

pertinency  seasoning conversation, while grace sweetens it. The clause

which follows indicates that “salt” denotes here, as commonly in Greek

(instance the phrase, “Attic salt”), an intellectual rather than a moral quality

of speech. In Ephesians 4:29 the connection is different, and the application

more general (compare Matthew 5:13; Mark 9:49-50) - “that ye may know how

ye ought to answer every man.”  (v. 4; I Peter 3:15; Philippians 1:27-28;

II Thessalonians 2:17). The Colossians were to pray for the apostle that he might

speak the mystery of Christ... as he ought to speak;” and he bids them seek for

themselves the same gift of parrhsi>a parraesiafrankness; blunt; open;

plain; confident -  liberty of speech and readiness to “every good word.” For their

faith was assailed by persuasive sophistry (ch. 2:4, 8, 23) and by brow-beating

dogmatism (ch. 2:16, 18, 20-21). They were, like Paul, “set for the defense of the

gospel,” placed in the van of the conflict against heresy. They needed, therefore,

to have all their wits about them,” so as to be able, as occasion required,

to make answer to each of their opponents and questioners, that they might

contend wisely as well as “earnestly for the faith.” 1 Peter. 3:15 is a commentary

on this verse: the parallelism is the closer because that Epistle was addressed to

Churches in Asia Minor, where the debates out of which Gnosticism arose were

beginning to be rife; and because, likewise, “the hope that was in them” was a chief

object of the attack made on the Colossian believers (ch.1:5, 23, 27; 2:18; 3:15).

With this exhortation the Christian teaching of the Epistle is concluded. In

its third and practical part (ch. 3:1-4:6) the apostle has built up, on the

foundation of the doctrine laid down in the first chapter, and in place of the

attractive but false and pernicious system denounced in the second, a lofty

and complete ideal of the Christian life. He has led us from the contemplation

of its “life of life” in the innermost mystery of union with Christ and of its

glorious destiny in Him (ch. 3:1-4), through the soul’s interior death-struggle

with its old corruptions (vs. 5-11) and its investment with the graces of its

new life (vs. 12-15), to the expression and outward acting of that life in the

mutual edification of the Church (vs. 16-17), in the obedience and devotion

of the family circle (v. 18- ch. 4:1), in constant prayerfulness and sympathy

with the ministers and suffering witnesses of Christ (vs. 2-4), and, lastly,

in such converse with men of the world, and in the midst of the distracting

debate by which faith is assailed, as shall fittingly commend the Christian






Paul concludes his letter, first, by introducing to the Colossians its bearer,

Tychicus, along with whom he commends to them their own Onesimus,

returning to his master (vs. 7-9); then, according to his custom, he conveys

greetings from his various friends and helpers present with him at the time,

in particular from Mark, who was likely to visit them, and from Epaphras

their own devoted minister (vs. 10-14); thirdly, he sends greeting to the

neighboring and important Church of Laodicea, specially mentioning Nympha,

with directions to exchange letters with the Laodiceans, and with a pointed

warning to Archippus, probably a Colossian, having some charge over that

Church (vs. 15-17). Finally, he appends, with his own hand, his apostolic

greeting and benediction (v. 18). The personal references of this section,

though slight and cursory, are of peculiar value, bearing themselves the

strongest marks of genuineness, and decisively attesting the Pauline

authorship of the Epistle. At the same time, we gather from them several

independent facts throwing light on Paul’s position during his imprisonment,

and on his relations to other leading personages of the Church.


7  All my state shall (literally, the things concerning me) Tychicus declare

unto you, who is a beloved brother and a faithful minister and fellow

servant (bondman), in the Lord.”  (Ephesians 6:21-22; Titus 3:12; I Timothy 

6:12;; II Timothy 1:8;  I Thessalonians 3:2; Philippians 2:25).  Tychicus appears

first in Acts 20:4, where he is called an “Asian” (of the Roman province of Asia,

of which Ephesus was capital), along with Trophimus, who, in Acts 21:29, is

styled “the Ephesian.” He accompanied the apostle on his voyage to Jerusalem

(A.D. 58), with a number of others representing different Churches, and

probably deputed, in conformity with the directions of  I Corinthians 16:3-4,

to convey the contributions raised for “the poor saints at Jerusalem.”

Trophimus was with Paul in Jerusalem (Acts 21:29), and so, probably, his

colleague (the words, “as far as Asia,” in Acts

20:4, are of very doubtful authority), he is now with the apostle in his

imprisonment at Rome, about to be sent home with these two letters

(compare Ephesians 6:21-22), and in charge of Onesimus, on whose

account the apostle sends a private letter to Philemon. In the interval

between the first (present) and second imprisonment (II Timothy), the

apostle revisited the Asiatic Churches (so we infer from I Timothy

1:3), and Tychicus rejoined him; for we find Paul proposing to send him

to Titus in Crete (Titus 3:12), and finally sending him from Rome once

more to Ephesus (II Timothy 6:12). These facts sustain the high terms in

which he is here spoken of. “In the Lord” belongs both to “minister” and

fellow servant.” This language is almost identical with that used of

Epaphras in ch. 1:7 (see notes). Tychicus is (dia>konov diakonos - “minister”),

not to Paul himself (Acts 13:5; 19:22, uJphre>thn hupaeretaentechnically,

an under rower, as distinguished from a seaman; a subordinate; attendant;

minister), nor in the official sense of Philippians 1:1, but “of Christ,” “of the

 gospel,” or “the Church” (I Thessalonians 3:2), as Paul himself (ch. 1:23, 25).

He is “a beloved brother” to his fellow.believers, “a faithful minister” of the

Lord Christ, and “a fellow servant” with the apostle (ch. 1:7;  here – v.10;

Philippians 2:25).


8  Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he

might know your estate, (literally, the things about us), and comfort your

hearts;” -  (Ephesians 6:22). The Received Text reads, by a slight confusion

of similar Greek letters, that he may know the things about you..

This is the only clause exactly identical in Colossians and Ephesians. There

would be great anxiety on Paul’s account amongst the Gentile

Christians everywhere, and especially in the Asiatic Churches, after the

ominous words of his address to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:22-25:

compare vs. 37-38). The Colossians had sent through Epaphras messages

of love to him (ch. 1:8). To know that he was of good courage, and even in

hope of a speedy release (Philemon 1:22), would “comfort their hearts.”


9  With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you.”  (v. 7;

ch. 1:2; Philemon 1:10,16; I Peter 5:12). “In Christ there is no slave” (ch. 3:11).

Onesimus, like Epaphras and Tychicus, is a brother, to be trusted and loved (comp.

Philemon 1:10-17). This language strongly supports the appeal of v.1, and would

further the purpose of the apostle’s intercession to Onesimus’ master. And Onesimus

even shares with the honoured Tychicus in the privilege of being the apostle’s

messenger!  “They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.”

(v. 7; Ephesians 6:21). There is, therefore, no need for any detailed account of the

writer’s circumstances. The solicitude which he assumes that these stranger Colossians

(ch. 1:8; 2:1) feel on his behalf shows how commanding his ascendancy over the

Gentile Churches had become.


10  Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, saluteth you,” - (Philemon 2, 23;

Philippians 2:25; Romans 16:7). Aristarchus, as a Thessalonian, accompanied the

apostle to Jerusalem, along with Tychicus the Asian (Acts 20:4), and was his

companion at least during the first part of his voyage to Rome (Ibid. ch. 27:2).

In Philemon 1:23-24 his name follows that of Mark as a “fellow worker”

(compare v. 11) and of Epaphras “my fellow prisoner” (compare Romans 16:7).

“Fellow prisoner” (aijcmalwto>v aichmalotos -  captive, prisoner of war)

differs from the “prisoner” (de>smiov desmios -  one in bonds) of Ephesians 3:1;

4:1; Philemon 1:9; II Timothy 1:8. The supposition that these men were permitted

as friends to share Paul’s captivity in turn, is conjectural.  Possibly the incident

recorded in Acts 19:29 was attended by some temporary joint imprisonment of Paul

and Aristarchus. As “a soldier of Christ Jesus,” the apostle was himself now “a

prisoner of war” (II Timothy 2:3-b4; II Corinthians 10:3-6); and

therefore those who shared his sufferings were his “fellow prisoners,” as

they were his “fellow soldiers” (Philemon 2; Philippians 1:30) and his

fellow servants” (ch1:7; 4:7). And Marcus (Mark), sister’s son of

Barnabas (cousin), touching whom ye received commandments — if he

come to you, receive him;” - (Philemon 24; II Timothy 4:11; I

Peter 5:13). It is pleasant to find John Mark, who deserted the apostle in

his first missionary journey (Acts 13:13), and on whose account he

separated from Barnabas (Acts 15:37-40) ten years before, now taken

again into his confidence and friendship (compare I Timothy 4:11). And

indeed it is evident that there was no permanent estrangement between the

two great Gentile missionaries; for Mark is called “cousin of Barnabas” by

way of recommendation (compare I Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 2:1,

9, 13). Mary, the mother of John Mark, was a person of some

consideration in the Church at Jerusalem (Acts 12:12), and through

her he may have been related to Barnabas, who, though a Cypriot Jew, had

property near Jerusalem (Acts 4:36-37), and was also highly honored

by the mother Church (Acts 9:27; 11:22-24; 15:25-26). Mark is,

moreover, a link between the Apostles Paul and Peter. It is to the house of

his mother that the latter betakes himself on his escape from Herod’s

prison (Acts 12:12). In I Peter. 5:13 he appears, along with Silvanus

(Silas), Paul’s old comrade, in Peter’s company, who calls him “my

son.”  Peter was then at Babylon, where Mark may have arrived at the

end of the journey eastwards which Paul here contemplates his

undertaking. The striking correspondence of language and thought

between Peter’s First Epistle (addressed, moreover, to Churches of

Asia Minor) and those of Paul to the Ephesians and Colossians (and, in

an equal degree, that to the Romans) suggests the existence of some

special connection at this time between the two writers, such as may well

have been afforded by Mark, if, leaving Rome soon after the despatch of

these letters, he travelled in their track by way of Asia Minor to join

Peter at Babylon. At the time of Paul’s second imprisonment, about

four years later, Mark is again in Asia Minor in the neighborhood of

Timothy, and the apostle desires his services at Rome (II Timothy

4:11). When or how the Colossians had received already directions

concerning Mark, we have no means of knowing. His journey appears to

have been postponed. The apostle must before this have communicated

with the Colossians. The visit of Epaphras to Rome may have been due to

some communication from him. “If he should come to you, give him a

welcome,” is the request the apostle now makes.


11   “And Jesus, which is called Justus,” -  the only name of this list wanting

in Philemon. Nor is this person mentioned elsewhere. “Jesus” (“Joshua,”

Acts 7:45; Hebrews 4:8) was a common Jewish name. “Justus”

(“just,” “righteous”) was frequently adopted by individual Jews, or

conferred on them, as a Gentile (Latin) surname (compare Acts 1:23;

18:7); it implied devotion to the Law, and was the equivalent of the

Hebrew Zadok. Its Greek equivalent, di>kaiovdikaiosrighteous –

 is the standing epithet of James, the brother of the Lord, and the head of the

Church at Jerusalem; and is emphatically applied to Christ himself

(Acts 3:14; 7:52; 22:14; I Peter. 3:18; I John 2:1) -  “who are of

the circumcision.  These only are my fellow workers unto the kingdom

of God, which have been a comfort unto me.”  (Philemon 1:1, 24;

I Thessalonians 3:2; Romans 16:3, 9, 21; II Corinthians 8:23;

Philippians 2:25; 4:3). Aristarchus, therefore, was a Jew, as well as

Mark and Jesus Justus. “These only,” must be read as in close

apposition to the previous clause. This statement accords with the apostle’s

complaint in Philippians 1:15-17; 2:19-24; but the still stronger

language of the latter passages seems to point to a later time when he was

yet more solitary, having lost Tychicus and Mark, and perhaps Aristarchus

also, and when he had a more definite prospect of release. The title “fellow

worker he frequently confers on his associates (see references). In

Philemon 24 it is applied, to Luke and Demas also. “The kingdom of God”

was, in ch. 1:13, “the kingdom of His Son;” as in Ephesians 5:5 it is

the kingdom of Christ and God.” On his arrival at Rome, Paul is described as

testifying, and preaching the kingdom of God” (Acts 28:23, 31: compare Ibid.

ch. 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; I Thessalonians 2:12; II Thessalonians 1:5). On the force of

oi[tinev hoitinesthese - (“men who,” “such as”), see ch. 2:23; and for

ejgenh>qhsan egenaethaesanhave been - (“proved,” “became in point

of fact”) -  compare ch. 3:15.  Parhgori>a paregoria - comfort, a word found

only here in the Greek Testament, is a medical term (compare “paregoric”), implying

soothing relief.”


12   Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant (bondman) of Christ Jesus  -

(Jesus – in the Greek) Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1; Galatians 1:10;

II Corinthians 4:5; I Corinthians 7:22; I Thessalonians 1:9; II Timothy 2:24;

Acts 4:29; James 1:1; II Peter 1:1; Jude 1; Revelation 1:1; 22:3, 6). “Of you,” like

Onesimus (v. 9). He was a native of Colossae, as well as evangelist and minister of

the Church there (ch. 1:7-8). “Jesus Bondman of Christ” is the title the apostle so

often claims for himself (see references), only here put by him on any one else. Is

there an implied reference to Onesimus (v. 9), who was “a bondman after the

flesh,” but “the Lord’s freedman” (Philemon 16), while Epaphras, “the

freeman,” is “Christ’s bondman” (compare I Corinthians 7:22)? We are

reminded again of ch.2:6 (see note) – saluteth you, always laboring (striving)

fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in

all the will of God.” (ch. 1:9, 23, 29; 2:1-2, 5; Romans 15:30; Ephesians

6:11-14; Philippians 1:27; 4:1; I Corinthians 16:13; I Thessalonians 3:8;

II Thessalonians 2:15). Epaphras “strives” (“wrestles”) for his spiritual charge,

like the apostle himself (ch. 1:29, see note on ajgwni>zomenovagonizomenos

striving - ch. 2:1; Romans 15:30; Luke 22:44).  Proskartere>ite

proskartereiteendure; persevere - in v. 2 denotes the patient persistence, this

word the intense energy, of prevailing prayer. Some read the stronger staqh~te

stathaete -  stand - for sth~te staete - ), compare ch. 1:23; 2:7; it is four times

repeated in the stirring appeal of Ephesians 6:11-14. For Churches threatened by

the attacks of heresy it was above all things needful “that they should stand

fast.” On “perfect,” see ch. 1:28; 3:14; the word bears a primary reference

to “knowledge,” and implies a fully instructed and enlightened condition

(Philippians 3:15; I Corinthians 14:20; Hebrews 5:14; 6:1), attended with

corresponding spiritual advancement (Ephesians 4:13). (peplhroforhme>noi, -

 peplaerophoraemenoi - Fully assured; translated here perfect and complete) –

carries us back to ch. 2:2 (see notes; on this verb). It bears the same sense in

Romans 4:21 and 14:5; a slightly different one in Luke 1:1. From the tenor of the

letter it appears that the Colossians needed a deeper Christian insight and more

intelligent and well-grounded convictions respecting the truth “as in Jesus.” is

strictly distributive (every will); qe>lhma ` - thelaemawill - (ch. 1:9) differs from

our will in having a concrete rather than abstract sense, denoting an act or

expression of will.



13  For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal  (po<non ponon

pain) for you,” -  (ch. 1:29; 2:1; Philippians 2:19-23; I Thessalonians 5:12-13;

I Timothy 5:17; I Corinthians 16:15-16). Po>nov occurs in the New Testament

besides only in Revelation 16:10-11 and 21:4, where it means “pain;”

in classical Greek it implies “painful, distressful exertion” (compare kopiw~ -

kopiotoiling; laboring; working; ch. 1:29). It indicates the deep anxiety

of Epaphras for this beloved and endangered Church. The apostle loves to

commend his fellow labourers (ch. 1:7; Philippians 2:20-22, 25-26;

II Corinthians 8:16-23) – and  them that are in Laodicea and them in

Hierapolis.” -  (vs. 15-17; ch. 2:1). The Church in Hierapolis is added to that

of Laodicea, singled out in as a special object of the apostle’s concern (on these

cities, see Introduction, § 1). Whether Epaphras was the official head of these

Churches or not, he could not but be deeply concerned in their welfare. V. 17

indicates the existence of a personal link between the Churches of Colossae and

of Laodicea.


14  Luke the beloved physician, the beloved, and Demas, greet you.” –

(Philemon 24; II Timothy 4:11). This reference to Luke’s profession is extremely

interesting. We gather from the use of the first person plural in Acts

16:10-17, and again from 20:5 to the end of the narrative, that he joined

Paul on his first voyage to Europe and was left behind at Philippi; and

rejoined him six years after on the journey to Jerusalem which completed

his third missionary circuit, continuing with him during his voyage to Rome

and his imprisonment. This faithful friend attended him in his second

captivity, and solaced his last hours; “Only Luke is with me” (II Timothy 4:11).

His being called “the physician” suggests that he ministered

to the apostle in this capacity, especially as “his first appearance in

Paul’s company synchronizes with an attack of Paul’s constitutional

malady” (Compare  Acts 16:10 and Galatians 4:13-15; the

illness referred to in II Corinthians 1:8-10 and 4:7-5:8 may partly have

led to Luke’s rejoining Paul in Macedonia). St Luke’s writings testify

both to his medical knowledge and to his Pauline sympathies. His

companionship probably gave a special coloring to the phraseology and

cast of thought of Paul’s later Epistles. “The beloved” is a distinct appellation, due

partly to Luke’s services to the apostle, but chiefly, one would suppose, to

the amiable and gentle disposition of the writer of the third Gospel. It is not

unlikely that he is “the brother” referred to in II Corinthians 8:18-19.

He was probably, like many physicians of that period, a freedman; and,

since freedmen took the name of the house to which they had belonged, may

have been, as Plumptre conjectures, connected with the family of the Roman

philosopher Seneca and the poet Lucan – “and Demas” -  (Philemon 24;

II Timothy 4:10), who alone receives no word of commendation — a fact

significant in view of the melancholy sentence pronounced upon him there. His

name is probably short for Demetrius.


15   “Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea,” - (v. 13; ch.2:1; Revelation

1:11; 3:14-22). Perhaps the brethren in Hierapolis (v. 13) were not formed into a

distinct Church as yet (compare ch. 2:1). The Church in Laodicea early became a

flourishing and wealthy community (Revelation 3:17) – “and Nymphas, and the

Church (literally, assembly)  which is in his house.”  Nu>mfan Nymphan

Nymphas - may be either masculine or feminine accusative. This person was

apparently a leading member of the Laodicean Church, at whose house Church

meetings were held (compare Acts 12:12; Philemon 2; Romans 16:5; I Corinthians

16:19). “The Church at her house” can scarcely have been an assembly distinct

from the brethren that are in Laodicea.” Both expressions may relate to the

same body of persons, referred first individually, then collectively as a meeting

gathered at this place. Others suppose a more private gathering to be

meant, as e.g. of Colossians living at Laodicea. Many older interpreters identified

this Church with the household of Nymphas. If “their” be the true reading, the

expression must include Nympha and her family. Nympha (or Nymphas), like

Philemon and his family, Paul had doubtless met in Ephesus.


16   And when this epistle (letter) is read among you, cause that it be read

also in the Church of the Laodiceans; (I Thessalonians 5:27). For these two

Churches were closely allied in origin and condition, as well as by situation and

acquaintanceship (ch. 2:1-5; 4:13). The leaven of the Colossian error was

doubtless beginning to work in Laodicea also. The words addressed to

Laodicea in the Apocalypse (Revelation 3:14-22) bear reference

apparently to the language of this Epistle (ch.1:15-18). The phrase, “Church

 of Laodiceans,” corresponds to that used in the salutation of I and II Thessalonians,

but is not found elsewhere in Paul’s writings -  “and that ye likewise read the

epistle from Laodicea.” What was this letter? Clearly a letter from Paul which

would be received at Laodicea, and which the Colossians were to obtain from there.

The connection of this sentence with the foregoing, and the absence of any other

definition of the words, “the letter (from Laodicea),” make this evident. Nothing

further can be affirmed with certainty. But several considerations point to the probability

that this missing Epistle is none other than our (so-called) Epistle to the Ephesians. For:


  • Both letters were sent at the same time, and by the same messenger

(Ephesians 6:21; ch. 4:7).


  • The relation between the two is more intimate than exists between any

other of Paul’s writings; they are twins, the birth of the same crisis in

the condition of the Church and in the apostle’s own mind. Each serves as

a commentary on the other. And there are several important topics, lightly

touched upon in this letter, on which the writer dilates at length in the

other (compare ch.1:9b and Ephesians 1:17-18; ch. 1:23b-25 and Ephesians

3:1-13; ch. 1:18a, 24b, 2:19 and Ephesians 4:4-16, 5:23-32; ch. 1:21, 27,

2:11-13, 3:11 and Ephesians 2.; ch. 1:18 (“Firstborn out of the dead”),

2:12b and Ephesians 1:19-23; ch. 3:12;  (“God’s elect”) and Ephesians

1:3-14; ch. 3:18-19 and Ephesians 5:22-33). On the other hand, the main

arguments of the Colossian letter are, as it seems, assumed and presupposed

in the Ephesian (compare Ephesians 1:10, 20b-23, 2:20b, 3:8b-11, 19b,

4:13b with ch. 1:15-20, 2:9-10; Ephesians 4:14 with  ch. 2:4, 8, 16-23).


  • The words ejn Efe>sw| - en Ephesusin Ephesus - in Ephesians 1:1 are

      of doubtful authenticity; (in my Greek New Testament “in Ephesusare

      in brackets – CY – 2011) and there is much in the internal character of that

      Epistle to favor the hypothesis, proposed by Archbishop Usher, that it was

      a circular letter, destined for a number of Churches in Asia Minor, of

      which Ephesus may have been the first and Laodicea the last (compare the

      order of Revelation 2 and 3). In that case a copy of the Ephesian Epistle

      would be left at Laodicea by Tychicus on his way to Colossae


  • Marcion, in the middle of tile second century (see Tertullian, ‘Against

Marcion,’ 5:11, 17), entitled the Epistle to the Ephesians, “To the

Laodiceans.” It does not appear that his heretical views could have been

furthered by this change. Probably his statement contains a fragment of

ancient tradition, identifying the Epistle in question with that referred to by

            Paul in this passage.


  • The expression, “the letter from Laodicea,” would scarcely be used of

a letter addressed simply to the Laodiceans and belonging properly to

them; but would be quite appropriate to a more general Epistle transmitted

from one place to another.


17  And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received

in the Lord, that thou fulfillbvde it.” (Acts 20:28; I Timothy 1:18-19; 4:6, 11-16;

6:13-14, 20-21; II Timothy 2:15; 4:5).  From the connection of this verse with the two

preceding, it seems likely that “the ministry” of Archippus related to the Laodicean

Church. Hence he is not addressed directly. If he was, as we gather from Philemon

1:1-2, the son of Philemon, whose house formed a center for the Colossian

Church (Ibid. v. 2), the warning would be suitably conveyed through this channel. In

the letter to Philemon, the apostle calls him his “fellow soldier” (compare ch. 4:10;

Philippians 1:29-30).  Both from this fact, and from the emphasis of the words before

us, it would appear that his office was an important one, probably that of chief

pastor. This warning addressed so early to the minister of the Laodicean

Church is premonitory of the lapsed condition in which it is afterwards

found (Revelation 3:14-22). (For (diakoni>a diakonia - ministry, compare

ch. 1:7, 23; I Corinthians 4:1. For “received,” compare note, ch. 2:6.) “In the

Lord;“ for every office in the Church is grounded in Him as Head and Lord

(ch. 1:18; 2:6; 3:17, 24; 4:7; Ephesians 1:22; 4:5; I Corinthians 8:6; 12:5), and must

be administered according to His direction and as subject to His judgment (see

I Corinthians 3:5; 4:1-5; II Corinthians 10:17-18; 13:10; Galatians 1:1;

I Timothy 1:12; II Timothy 4:1-2). Fulfil (compare ch. 1:26; II Timothy 4:5;

Acts 12:25). This admonition resembles those addressed to Timothy in the

Pastoral Epistles.


18  The salutation by the hand of me Paul.” (II Thessalonians 3:17-18;

I Corinthians 16:21-24; Galatians 6:11-18). So the apostle appends his

authenticating signature to the letter, written, as usual, by his amanuensis, himself

inscribing these last words (see parallel passages). The Epistle to Philemon he

appears to have penned himself throughout (Philemon 1:19). “Remember my

bonds.”  (ch.1:24; Philemon 1:9,13; Ephesians 3:l,13; 4.l; 6:20; II Timothy 2:9).

This pathetic postscript is thoroughly characteristic (compare Galatians 6:17).

“Grace be with you.  Amen.” -  literally, the grace (compare ch. 3:16). The

apostle’s final benediction in all his Epistles; here in its briefest form, as in

I and II Timothy. In the Ephesian benediction “grace” is also used absolutely.

II Corinthians 13:14 gives the formula in its full liturgical amplitude.


"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.

Materials are reproduced by permission."


This material can be found at:


If this exposition is helpful, please share with others.