If I were to summarize the texts we will be covering in this post, I would have to say it is an exhortation to continue praying, continue walking and continue proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.
After addressing bondservants in the end of Chapter 3, Paul moves on to speak to their masters. Of course we know that when Paul wrote this letter it wasn’t divided into chapters and verses. Thus, many bible commentators and teachers correctly indicate that this verse really belongs to the material in the closing words of the previous chapter. It contains a final word to masters of slaves.
Many secular historians estimate that at the height of the Roman Empire’s power, over one-half of the population consisted of slaves; and as such they comprised a large portion of the early Church.
Thus, the Church was made up of those who were slaves as well as those who were masters of slaves; and therefore it was important for masters to remember that in the body of Christ there is no caste system.
Any and all who are in Christ are on an equal level regardless of social strata. Yes, there are distinctions of callings in the church and order within the home for functional purposes, but we all have the responsibility to treat one another in Christ with dignity and respect.
Thus, the instruction to masters of slaves was that they were to act toward them in a way that was just and fair, always keeping in mind that they, too, have a master in Heaven before Whom they will one day stand and give an account for the stewardship which was entrusted to them.
The contemporary admonition of this principle would be directed towards a business owner or a supervisor at a company.
4.2-4 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us (Paul, Timothy & Epaphras), that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
Continue. The Greek word for “continue” means “to be courageously persistent” or “to hold fast and not let go.” The NASB reads devote yourselves to prayer. The NKJV reads continue earnestly in prayer. In context, it ” refers to the importance of persistent prayer.
These words echo the words of Jesus found in Luke 18.1 that ‘men always ought to pray and not lose heart’.
Jesus told the parables of the friend at midnight (Luke 11:5–8) and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1–8) to encourage us as His children to be persistent in prayer. (Cp. Acts 1:14; Rom. 12:12; Eph. 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:17).
If both public and private prayer characterized Jesus’ life, and He was God Incarnate, how much more do believers need to pray for the gospel, for themselves, and for one another?
Being watchful. In its most general sense, this means to stay awake while praying, rather than being vague and unfocused. NASB keeping alert. NKJV being vigilant. Cf. Matt. 26:41; Mark 14:38; Luke 21:36.
Because we are prone to mentally wander off into “lala” land when we are praying, this is reminding us that we need to guard both against mechanical babbling and vague thinking in our prayers.
Kenneth Weusts NT Word studies beautifully states that the heart must be awake, if the prayer is to have any value.
With thanksgiving. Being thankful should always accompany prayer, for it places each and every one of us in our proper place before God. Prayer is one of the benefits of the redemption that has been given unto us through The Lord Jesus Christ. Prayer is a gift from God that enables every single child of God direct access to the throne of grace in time of need. It is also a precious gift that enables us to hold sweet communion with The Living God 24/7.
The 3 fold content of Paul’s prayer request
The Apostle Paul requests prayer for three things related to his ministry: (1) he requests prayer for an open door to preach (cf. Acts 14:27; I Cor. 16:9; II Cor. 2:12; Rev. 3:8); (2) an ability to explain the mystery of the gospel; and (3) the ability to speak the gospel clearly.
When Jesus shouted the words from the cross, It is Finished, the work of atonement was finished, but the churches work of reaching the world with His gospel had just begun. The last words of Jesus before He ascended to The Father related to getting the gospel out.
- Mark 16.15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
- Act 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Three practical observations from Col 4.3; Mark 16.15 & Acts 1.8 (1) The Great Commission of proclaiming the gospel is not a suggestion, but a command (2) Prayer is the means that God uses to open the doors for the gospel to be proclaimed. (3) The ability to proclaim the gospel with power comes from the indwelling Spirit of God, not the intelligence or wisdom of man.
So we have set before us today a divine mandate; a promise of divine empowerment; and last, but not least, the means whereby God provides the open doors and power to proclaim this divine mandate…prayer.
Would you once again so kindly notice that Paul asks for prayer to speak the mystery of Christ, and to proclaim Him openly and unashamedly, as he ought to speak.
The mystery of Christ – As we have already learned in previous studies, a mystery in the bible is something that was hidden or veiled in the OT that is now revealed by The Spirit in the NT.
Earlier in this Epistle to the Colossians, Paul has made clear that the essence of the mystery of Christ is God’s redemption of mankind (Chapter 1:13-14, 21-23), our reconciliation to Him (Chapter 1:19-20) and ultimately Christ in us, the hope of our glory (1:26-27).
The mystery as spoken of in Ephesians 3:6, is referring to the revelation that the Gentiles are to be grafted into one body with the Jew in the mystical body of Christ, the Church.
Why is Paul in prison? For proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even though he is incarcerated for the crime of proclaiming the gospel, Paul not only requests prayer for an open door, but also for boldness to speak the truth, as he ought to speak it.
I believe it is important for us to know that an open door from God does not always mean smooth sailing without any opposition or difficulty. A cursory study of evangelism in the book of Acts proves this point. A great and effectual door is opened unto me and there are many adversaries (1 Cor 16.9).
Rather than keep quiet, which would make life much easier for himself, Paul is asking for prayer to be faithful in spite of the consequences!
Beloved, are you and I in spite of the circumstances followers of Jesus Christ? Mark it down on the tablets of your heart beloved; If you have counted the cost to seriously follow Christ. If you have chosen to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ over human loyalty, the cross over the pleasures of this world, inevitably, there is going to be opposition and consequences.
How are we to make the mystery of the gospel known?
1Th 2:4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
Let me ask you a couple of questions. (1) How do you please men when talking to them about the gospel or the things of The Lord? Answer? By telling them what they want to hear? (2) How do you please God by telling others about the gospel or things of The Lord? Answer? By telling people what they need to hear.
Basically, what is the gospel? Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. He was buried and rose again from the dead on the 3rd day according to the Scriptures. He and He alone is The Way, The Truth and The Life and no man comes unto The Father but through Him. That salvation is b y grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone apart from works lest any man should boast. We are all sinners by nature and by choice, and unless we repent of our sin and trust solely in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for full payment for our sin, we will be eternally separated from God forever.
4.5 Walk (order one’s behavior) in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.
Them that are without. This refers to unbelievers. Ephesians 5.15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16. Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
To “redeem” means “to ransom or buy back”. It suggests the idea of making a wise and sacred use of every opportunity for the light of Christ to so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.
Dear ones, we are all called by God to live in such a way that we establish the credibility of the gospel of Jesus Christ by how we live and how we speak. In the process of living out our daily lives, we are to seize every opportunity to do good towards ‘those without,’ and by doing so, promote the spreading of the gospel.
Beloved, each and every believer is given a limited amount of time on this earth and a measured amount of resources, and that time and those resources are to be sued, spread the gospel, bless others and glorify God.
4.6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
Gracious – To speak what is edifying, wholesome, fitting, kind, sensitive, purposeful, gentle, truthful, loving, and thoughtful (see notes on Eph. 4:29–31).
1Pe 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.
Seasoned with salt. Salt in ancient times was highly valuable, as it had properties that made it a preservative, a disinfectant and an additive that enhanced the flavor of food. Just as salt not only flavors, but prevents corruption, the Christian’s conduct and speech should act not only as a blessing to others, but as a purifying influence within the decaying society of the world.
The Bible places a tremendous emphasis and importance on prayer beloved. How is your prayer life? When problems surface, or sudden emergencies or crisis happen, or an unexpected blessing comes our way, is our first response one of prayer and thanksgiving unto God?
God in His wonderful grace has given to us the gift of prayer that enables us to cast all of our cares and needs unto Him. Do we take advantage of this wonderful gift? Inviting you to come up for prayer or to pray with one another is not “just something that we are supposed to do”, it is a vital part of living out our faith and displaying trust in God.
Because we have an adversary, the devil who is roaming around seeking whom he may devour and because are living in a world that is hostile to the truth of God, a vital part of the armor of God is the weapon of prayer. Prayers for one another and with one another enable us to stand when under attack of the enemy.
Prayer is the heavenly support for the ongoing need for every area of ministry here within our own body and for open doors of evangelism. Not everybody is called to teach the Bible. Not everybody is called to sing in the worship band. But there is one thing that every saint is called to do, and that is pray.
Avail yourself to the opportunities for prayer meetings beloved. Go to the prayer room on the 1st floor and pray with other saints during services.
Join and participate in our Internet prayer chain. Consider opening your home for prayer and inviting people over for prayer. Come to the church ANY day of the week during office hours and spend time praying.
Continue Walking or living out your faith.
Beloved, are you living out your faith in your very own home? Are you living out your faith wherever you live? Are you living your your faith wherever you work? You young people, and in particular I am speaking to those who for the first time will be leaving the nest of life with mom and dad to a secular college or university. Are you prepared to live out your faith inside and outside the classroom for The Lord Jesus Christ and the glory of God?
Beloved, you are either living a wasted life or a redemptive life. If you have decided to live your life for Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God, then you have chosen wisely. On the other hand, if you have made living for this world and the kingdoms of this world your focus, you have chosen a life of vanity and emptiness. What shall it profit a man if he should gain the whole world, and lose his or her own soul? What will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Jesus said, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me and to finish His work. Make today count for Jesus Christ. Make the most of every second and every opportunity to make the most of your God and Savior. Invest your life is something that is Bigger than you.
Continue Proclaiming the gospel.
Purpose to be a fisher of men. Be sensitive to providence of God and how He places people around you who have yet to turn to Christ. Jesus said look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest (John 4.35). The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray that The Lord will send laborers into His harvest (Matt 9.37,38). I have heard it said that the words that Isaiah heard from the throne in chapter 6 are being said today. Who will go for us?
Let me ask you beloved, do you know what the gospel is? Are you ready to share the gospel when the Lord opens the doors? Are you willing to share the gospel when The Lord opens the doors? Have you made yourself available to share the gospel whenever and wherever The Lord opens the doors?
It is highly unlikely that The Lord will use an unprepared, unwilling and unavailable person to share Christ with others. If that convicts you, and you are serious about making some changes in your life along those lines, please contact me for prayer.
If there is such a thing as learning something good from a bad example it would be taking a page from the evangelistic zeal of the Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses who take the time and make the effort to know what they believe inside and out and are not afraid or ashamed to speak it.
Are you a follower of Jesus Christ?
Now the normal response when that question is asked is usually a purely academic response that goes something like this. Of course I am a follower of Jesus Christ, I asked Him into my life when I was 5 years old and I believe that Jesus Christ is The Son of God. I believe in the Trinity. I believe that Christ died on the cross for the sin of the world and that He rose again from the dead. All of this is true and biblically correct, but here is the problem….the devil believes that as well.
The Bible tells us that with the heart man believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. To believe with the heart, or to be born again means to believe with my entire being. As Jesus said, eternal life is loving God with all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your mind and all of your strength. The net result of that belief is that you deny yourself, forsake living for the world and purpose to line your life up with the teaching of Scripture regardless of the cost or the consequences.
This is what it means to walk on the narrow path that leads unto life. This is what it means to build your life on a solid rock and not sand.
Every human being has biological life. Many people have religious or spiritual life. Few people have eternal life.
Let me say something that is very heavy on my heart these days. When it comes to the proclamation of the gospel, the only thing that I can tell you with absolute certainty is this. If you truly repent of your sin and trust in the atonement of Jesus Christ, and by that I mean that you are trusting His death, burial and resurrection from the dead as full satisfaction for your sin, and in doing so, you will be forgiven and your name will be found in that book of life.
I cannot tell you if you come to Christ today that the rest of your life will be pain free or care free because that would not be true.
I cannot tell you that if you come to Christ today your unsaved friends or family members will accept you and stand behind you, because they may reject you and want nothing more to do with you.
I cannot tell you that you that if you come to Christ today you will never be sick another day of your life because that would not be true. I cannot tell you that if you come to Christ today, your unsaved spouse will immediately come to Christ as well or never leave you because that would not be true.
I cannot tell you that if you come to Christ today all of your children will walk with Christ and never stray from Him. I cannot tell you that you will never lose a job. I cannot tell you that if you come to Christ with a mound of debt that the mound will go away overnight or ever go away. I cannot promise you any of those things you because that may or may not be true.
But I can tell you this……if you come to Christ today with a broken and a contrite heart, He will forgive you of your sin, He will give you a new heart, He will make you a new creature, He will give you new desires and delights that you never had before.
Jesus Christ will be with you always, through thick or thin, good times and bad times. Though others may leave you or forsake you, Jesus Christ will never leave you nor forsake you.
I can promise you a love that is so strong that the Apostle Paul describes it this way……
Romans 8.35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.