Paul’s Concluding Matters
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being on the alert in it with thanksgiving, praying together also concerning us, in order that God might open the door of the word to us to speak the mystery of Christ, about which I have also been bound, in order that I might reveal it as it is necessary for me to speak. Walk in wisdom towards those outside by making the most of the time. Let your word always be with grace, being seasoned with salt, for you to know how it is necessary for you to answer each one.
“All the things according to me Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful servant and co-slave in the Lord, whom I sent to you for this very thing, will make it known to you, in order that you might know the things concerning us and your hearts might be encouraged, with Onesimus the faithful and beloved brother, whois from you; they will make known all the things here to you.
“Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, greets you and Mark, the nephew of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions, if he comes to you, receive him) and Jesus the one being called Justus, the ones who are of the circumcision, these ones are only fellow works in the kingdom of God, they have been a comfort to me. Epaphras, the one from you, a slave of Christ Jesus, greets you, always striving on your behalf in prayer, in order that you might stand mature and having been fully assured in every will of God. For I testify in him that he has many labors on your behalf and for those in Laodicea and those in the Hierapolis. Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you.
“Greet the brothers in Laodicea and Nympha and the church in her house. And when the letter is read for you, make sure that also it is read in the church in Laodicea, and the letter from Laodicea that also you read. And say to Archippus, “See the service which you took in the Lord, in order that you might fulfill it.
“I greet with my hand of Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.” (Col 4:2-18, my translation)
Paul charges his audience to devote themselves to prayer on his behalf. He wants them to devote themselves to prayer, being alert, and to pray with thanksgiving, in order that the door might be opened for him to speak the gospel. Paul is asking for support through prayer for the opportunity to preach the gospel. Paul also charges his audience to live wisely towards non-Christians (Remember the household code? Remember that appearance matters?). Paul wants them to be careful, making the most of how they use their time, because their conduct coincides with the gospel message he is proclaiming. Furthermore, they need to speak with gracefulness, seasoned with salt, especially when giving an answer. Both words and conduct are both powerful ways of communicating the gospel. “Seasoned” words are better than “unseasoned.” Seasoned words are interesting and fruitful. Paul is saying that they should be ready with an interesting response when verbally communicating with outsiders. One’s response, one’s answer, one’s story needs to be filled with zest; otherwise, it will not likely suit well.
Then Paul sends greetings and gives instructions for passing around the letter to Laodicea and vice versa. There are a couple noteworthy factors involved here. First, Paul was partnering with other people. He was not a lone wolf. Second, Nympha, a female no doubt, was in charge of a church that met in her house. In the New Testament, women could be in church leadership, although it was not leadership as we have come to know it in our American setting.
What can we say? We should be concerned about the testimony we put forth to non-Christians. Conduct is itself a testimony. We need to be wise in our conduct if we want to be effective. Furthermore, we need to speak well of each other and of God and his work in all of us, especially our own life story, if we want to be verbally effective. Our concern is not only for pleasing God, but also for bringing others into the household of God. We should actively seek to put on the right clothes, and, to speak rightly and positively of everyone. Are we dressing appropriately? Are we speaking rightly?