Unto the Kingdom of God

Colossians 4:11-18 – And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellow workers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me. Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, salutes you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he has a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis. Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you. Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou have received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it. The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.

‘Jesus, which is called Justus’ – Paul lodged with Justus, who is called Titus Justus in some MSS and versions in Acts 18:7. A man that was chosen to be voted on in Acts 1:23. It is not clear whether these were the same or two different men.

‘These only are my fellow workers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.’ Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Marcus, and Justus are all mentioned here; no doubt they were all fellow workers of Paul. The last three were of the circumcision, meaning they were Jews. This book was written in about 64 A.D.

‘Epaphras’ – He was a fellow prisoner of Paul in Rome and a minister of the gospel. He was one of the Colossian believers.

‘That you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.’ This seems to be the great desire of the early Bible teachers.

‘Laodicea’ – A city located in Phrygia, a few miles west of Colosse (Rev.3:14).

‘Hierapolis’ – A city of Phrygia near Colosse. It was called a holy city because of its many heathen temples of Apollo, Diana, Aesculapius, and Hygeia. All these gods were worshipped here.

‘Luke, the beloved physician’ Luke, wrote the gospel of Luke and was called the beloved physician because he took care of all Paul’s wounds (2Tim. 4:11; Phm. 1:24); and the “we” portions of Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1 – 28:16). He was a Jew and perhaps the Lucius of Romans 16:21 and Acts 13:1. If so, he was related to Paul.

‘Demas’ – A companion of Paul who later backslid and deserted the gospel work (2Tim. 4:10; Phm. 1:24).

‘Nymphas’ – A Christian of Laodicea who had a Christian congregation in his house. Not mentioned elsewhere.

Beloved Brother

Colossians 4:7-13 All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts; With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here. Aristarchus my fellow prisoner salutes you, and Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas, (touching whom you received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him)

‘A beloved brother’ – is a fraternal epithet among Christians (Acts 9:17; 21:20; 2Cor. 2:13; Heb. 2:11-12; 1Pet. 1:22). From Hebrews 2:11-12 we see that Christ, who is the great Sanctifier, sets apart and consecrates men to the service of God. They who are sanctified or thus consecrated and set apart to the service of God, are all one, in the same family, and are called brethren – that includes male and female (Gal. 3:28), because we represent the male body of Christ just as the nation Israel as the wife of God, in the Old Testament, was representatives as God’s nation. 

‘Tychicus’ – One of the trusted companions of Paul and probably an Ephesian. (Eph 6:21; 2Tim. 4:12; Tit. 3:12).

‘Onesimus’ – A runaway slave of Philemon, a native of Colosse, and converted by Paul in Rome (Phm. 1:10).

‘Aristarchus’ – A Macedonian who was a companion of Paul and a prisoner with him at Rome (Acts 19:29; 27:2; Phm. 1:24).

‘Marcus’ – John Mark is the author of the gospel of Mark. He was the nephew of Barnabas (Col. 4:10) and a disciple of Jesus (Acts 12:12). Paul and Barnabas took him on the first missionary journey but he got homesick and left the party (Acts 12:25; 13:5, 13). Paul and Barnabas separated over Mark when they started on the second missionary journey (Acts 15:33-39). He was a convert of Peter (1Pet. 5:13). He later worked with Paul (Col. 4:10-11; 2Tim. 4:11; Phm. 1:24).

Continue in Prayer

Colossians 4:2-6 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, 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. Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer every man. 

‘Continue’ [Greek: proskartereo] to be earnest toward a thing; persevere; be constantly diligent; attend to it continually or regularly (Rom. 12:12). If all this would be practised in prayer, it would be easy to: Mortify the members (3:5). Put off the old man (3:8). Put on the new man (3:10). Do the 12 things of note from Colossians 3:17. Submit to husbands as to Christ (3:18). Love wives without bitterness (3:19). Obey parents in all things (3:20). Love the children (3:21). Serve masters as unto God (3:22-25). Be just towards servants (4:1).

Every person struggling with any of the above problems will do well to pray for the grace to help him. Wives should pray for the grace to submit to their husbands; husbands for grace to love their wives and be cured of bitterness; children for grace to obey parents; fathers for wisdom to deal with their children; servants and masters for grace to solve their problems, and all Christians should pray to overcome all selfishness and live right.

‘Prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.’ Eight practices for all believers: Continuing in prayer (4:2). Watching continually in prayer. Giving continued thanks to God. Praying for ministers and their work (4:3). Praying for the success of the gospel (4:3-4). Living Christian life before men (4:5). Using time for God. Being tactful with men (4:6).

‘Seasoned’ [Greek: artuo] spice, seasoning. Let your speech be always spiced and seasoned with answers that will oppose sin and preserve from the corruption thereof. Let it be holy, wise, gracious, Christian, savoury, wholesome, courteous, respectful, desirable, and worthy of being kept in the memory of others.

Servants and Masters

Colossians 3:22-25 – 4:1 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for you serve the Lord Christ. But he that does wrong shall receive for the wrong which he has done: and there is no respect of persons. Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

‘Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God.’ Six commands for servants: To obey your masters (i.e., be faithful employees). To be conscientious in service (Eph. 6:5). Not to render eyeservice (Eph. 6:6). To do the will of God from the heart (Eph. 6:6). To render cheerful service to men as you would to the Lord (Eph. 6:7; Col. 3:23). To recognize that if you are not properly recompensed by man you will be by God (Eph. 6:8; Gal. 6:7-8; Col. 3:24-25).

‘Knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance …’ This is the 2nd and last New Testament prophecy in Colossians (3:24-25) and it is unfulfilled. This refers to the judgment seat of Christ where all the saints will be judged after the rapture for the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or bad (Rom. 2:12-16; 14:10-12; 1Cor. 3:11-15; 2Cor. 5:10; Gal. 6:8; Eph. 6:8; Luke 14:14; 2Tim. 4:14; Rev. 2:23; 22:12).

‘Give unto your servants that which is just and equal.’ Three commands for masters: Act in the same affectionate, conscientious manner toward your servants, as they do toward you (Eph. 6:9). Do not threaten your servants (Eph. 6:9). Recognize that you have the same Master as your servants and that there is no partiality with Him (Eph. 6:9; Rom. 2:11).

Children and Fathers

Colossians 3:20-21 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. 

‘Children, obey your parents in all things.’ Ephesians 6:1-3 expand on these commandments: To obey parents and to honour them, with the reasons that firstly it is right; it is a commandment (Ex. 20:12); it is a blessing of well-being and long life is promised. Threefold blessing to those who remember and keep the commandments (Prov. 3:1-2): Length of days (Prov. 3:2, 16; 4:10; 9:11). A long life (1Pet. 3:10-11). Peace (Isa. 26:3).

Parents must teach their children the importance of obedience otherwise they fail God and their children (Prov. 15:32).

‘Fathers, provoke not your children to anger.’ Fathers are not allowed to provoke their children to wrath. They must avoid making sport of them (Prov. 26:17-19); severity, anger and cruelty. Cruel parents generally have rebellious children. Correct them, do not punish them. Punishment is from a principle of revenge; correction is from a principle of loving concern. Bring your children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The mind is to be nourished with wholesome discipline and instruction which will bend them toward God and Christian living (Eph. 6:4).

‘Be discouraged’ [Greek: athumeo] have their spirit broken.

Wives and Husbands

Colossians 3:18-19 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. 

‘Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.’ Submission will always fall under that which is lawful and right, not in things criminal and wrong. If a husband is sinful and demands his wife to leave off the things that save the soul, she is not under obligation to him. Her God and her soul must come first (Matt. 22:37; Luke 14:26-27). Obedience to the husband in all things is based upon him loving his wife, as Christ does His body (Eph. 5:25, 28, 33).

‘Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.’ Husbands are warned in Ephesians 5:28 that they must love their wives as their own bodies, for he that loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord does to the members of His body, flesh and bones.

Eight commands for husbands: To be head (taking lead, not rule) of the wife (Eph. 5:23). To love their wives as Christ loved His body (Eph. 5:25). To love their wives as their own bodies (Eph. 5:28, 33). To nourish [Greek: ektrepho] bring up, care for, protect (Eph. 5:29; 6:4; Rev. 12:6). To cherish [Greek: thalpo] to foster, warm in one’s bosom (Eph. 5:29; 1Thess. 2:7). To be joined as one flesh (Eph. 5:30-31). To leave his parents for their wives (Eph. 5:31), not cling to his father and mother and never stand on his own feet to become the head of his home. To cleave to their wives (Eph. 5:31; Matt. 19:5).

Whatsoever You Do

Colossians 3:14-17 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body; and be you thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. 

‘Charity’ – Divine love is to be put on as the outer garment and finishing touch to a well-dressed Christian. After putting on the eight other things of Colossians 3:10, one is to put on this outer cloak as the bond of perfectness or as a girdle. It is to cover all, unite all, and bind all together as one. This is true perfection (Matt. 5:43-48; 1Cor. 13:1-13).

‘Rule’ [Greek: brabeuo] to be an umpire; to arbitrate, direct, and govern.

‘Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs’ – Spiritual songs mean those of the spiritual life and the given psalms.

‘Whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.’ Twelve obligations of the Christian life: Seek those things above (3:1). Set affections on things above (3:2) and mortify all sinful members (3:5-7). Put off the old man (3:8-9). Put on the new man (3:10-12). Forbear with all men (3:13; 1Cor. 13:1-13). Forgive all men (3:13; Matt. 18:35). Put on divine love (3:14; 1Cor. 13:1-13). Let peace umpire the life (3:15). Know the Bible (3:15; 2Tim. 2:15; 3:16-17). Teach and admonish one another (3:16). Use the Christian’s power of attorney (3:17; John 16:23).

When we do anything to mortify the flesh we are disobedient to this commandment of doing everything – in word and deed – in the name of the Lord. No selfishness, self-pride, self-gain or self-glory can be done in His name, for all the glory belongs to Him and Him alone (1Cor. 10:31).

Christ is All in All

Colossians 3:11-13 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do you. 

‘Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision.’ In the new creation, there is no distinction made in rights and privileges because of race, sex, colour, or position in life (1Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:28).

‘Scythian’ – Regarded by the ancients as the lowest type of barbarians. Bond slaves.

‘Christ is all, and in all’ – Christ is all things to all believers and is in all believers For if Christ is in us, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised Jesus from the dead dwell in us, He that raised Christ from the dead shall also quicken our mortal bodies by His Holy Spirit that dwells in us (Rom. 8:9-16).

‘The elect of God’ – All classes, races, colours, sexes, and types of people in Christ make the elect, not just the Jews. Anyone chose by God – an individual or nation – is the elect of God (Luke 18:7).

‘Holy and beloved’ All true Christians are: Holy [Greek: hagios] (Rom. 11:16; 12:1; 2Cor. 3:17; Eph. 1:4; 2:21; 3:5; 5:27; Col. 1:22; 3:12; 1Thess. 5:27; 1Tim. 8; Tit. 1:8; Heb. 3:1; 1Pet. 1:15-16; 2:5, 9; 3:5; 2Pet. 1:21; 3:2; Rev. 22:11) and the beloved of God [Greek: agapao] Rom. 1:7; 2Cor. 7:1; Col. 3:12; 1Thess. 1:4; 2Thess. 2:13; 1Jn. 3:2; 4:1, 7, 11).

Put On the New Man

Colossians 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him

‘Put on the new man.’ Nine things to put on (3:10, 12): The new man (Eph. 4:24); bowels of mercies (2Cor. 6:12); kindness (1Cor. 13:4); humbleness of mind; meekness (1Cor. 13:4); longsuffering (1Cor. 13:4); forbearance (Gal. 5:22); forgiveness (Matt. 18:35); divine love (1Cor. 13:4).

‘New man’ – This is the Spirit and nature of God in renewed man (Eph. 4:23-24; 2Pet. 1:4; Rom. 8:9, 14-16).

‘Renewed in knowledge’ – Therefore, because we do not know any man after the flesh, not even Christ, it is vain for any man to profess a relationship with Christ according to the flesh, while he is unchanged in heart and life and dead in trespasses and sins. One must be renewed in the attitude of your mind by renouncing its vanity (Eph. 4:17), its darkness and blindness (Eph. 4:18) and learning of Christ (Eph. 4:20-21).

‘Knowledge’ [Greek: epignosis] full and true knowledge (3:10; 1:9-10; Rom. 1:28; 3:20; 10:2; Eph. 1:17; 4:13; Php. 1:9; 1Tim. 2:4; 2Tim. 3:7; Heb. 10:26; 2Pet. 1:2, 3, 8; 2:20) and acknowledge (2:2; 2Tim. 2:25; Tit. 1:1; Phm. 1:6). Ignorance is the state of the average heathen who gets to know only a little about nature. Christianity teaches man the true and full knowledge of God and nature, and the origin and destiny of all things (Acts 15:18; Eph. 2:7; 3:9-11).

‘Image’ [Greek: eikon] This is one of three places where the word means a pattern or moral and spiritual likeness (3:10; Rom. 8:29; 2Cor. 3:18). The idea here is that God planned for man to have full knowledge. Now He renews man after the original pattern or plan and gives him a sound mind and true knowledge (2Tim. 1:7; 2Pet. 1:3-13). This could read, “renewed in knowledge according to the original pattern of God who created him.”

Put Off All These

Colossians 3:8-9 But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds

‘Put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.’ Seven things to put off: Anger (3:8; Eph. 4:26); wrath; malice (3:8; Eph. 4:31); blasphemy (3:8; Matt. 12:31); filthy communication, foul language (Eph. 4:29; 5:4); lying (3:9; Eph. 4:25); the old man (3:9; 2Cor. 5:17).

‘Old man with his deeds’ – Two old things that pass away: [1] The spirit, nature, and power of sin the old man, which is nothing more nor less than the spirit, nature, and power of the devil working in men of disobedience (John 8:44; Eph. 2:2; 2Cor. 4:4; 1Jn. 3:8; 5:18). This is what the Bible calls: The old man (Rom. 6:6; Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9); sin (John 1:29; 8:34; Rom.  6:4 – 8:2); the body of sin (Rom. 6:6); the power of satan (Acts 26:18); the body of this death (Rom. 7:24); the lusts of the flesh (Eph. 2:3); the lust of the eyes (1Jn. 2:15-17); the pride of life (1Jn. 2:15-17); the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19); the world (1Jn. 2:15-17; Jas. 4:4); vile affections (Rom. 1:26, 29); the lusts of the mind (Eph. 2:3); the lusts of sin (Rom. 6:11-12); the motions of sins (Rom. 7:5); the law of sin and death (Rom.  7:7 – 8:2); the carnal mind (Rom. 8:1-13); the god of this world (2Cor. 4:4); spiritual wickedness in high places … rulers of darkness (Eph. 6:12); the lusts of your father (John 8:44); sin that dwells in me (Rom. 7:17); the course of this world (Eph. 2:2); the body of the sins of the flesh (2:11; Gal. 5:24; Rom. 8:1-39). [2] Outward sin or transgression of the law (1Jn. 3:4; Rom. 4:15; Jas. 1:13-15). The outward acts are listed in Mark 7:19-21; Romans 1:18-32; 2Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21 and Colossians 3:5-10.

Both outward and inward sin must pass away or one cannot claim to be in Christ. The theory that only outward transgressions are forgiven and one is still under the control of the old man (the devil) is one of the most erroneous doctrines in Christendom (2Cor. 5:17-18; Eph. 4:24; 1Jn. 5:18; Rom. 6:6-23; 8:1-13).