Colossians 3:22 – 4:1

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 28, 2009


We’ve seen Paul progress from correct doctrine to correct living.

We’ve seen Paul describe the qualities of the heart of a Christian such as:

Compassion, kindness, humility, and meekness.

We saw how practical these qualities are and how they affect our relationships.

Between a husband and wife, these qualities translate into submission and love.

Between children and parents, these qualities translate as obedience and not crushing a child’s passions.

This week we take these qualities to work.

:22 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God.

Bondservantsdoulos – a slave, bondman, man of servile condition

The population of the entire world at this time was somewhere around 200 million.  The population of the Roman Empire in Paul’s day was around 65 million.  Somewhere between 25-30% of the population of the Roman Empire at that time was made up of slaves – or around 20 million slaves.  The city of Rome alone had a population of around 1 million, half of which were slaves.

There were a lot of people in Paul’s day who were slaves.  This is what the Roman economy was built upon.

Many people who came to church were slaves.

What is a “slave”?

It’s someone who works hard and at the end of the day gets to take home little or nothing.
Does that sound like your job?  Are you a stay-at-home mom?  Maybe you’re a student?  What if you’re retired?

obeyhupakouo – to listen, to harken; to obey, be obedient to, submit to

all thingspas – each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything

according to the fleshsarx – flesh; the body

The Gnostics taught that only spirit was good and all flesh was evil.

We might get “spiritual” and say that we only obey our heavenly “master”, God.

Yet Paul clarifies that he’s talking about “fleshly” or “human” masters.  I have an obligation to my flesh and blood boss at work.

masterskurios – he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; lord

That means your “boss”.


The boss was complaining in the staff meeting the other day that he wasn’t getting any respect. Later that morning he went to a local sign shop and bought a small sign that read, “I’m the Boss”. He then taped it to his office door. Later that day when he returned from lunch, he found that someone had taped a note to the sign that said. “Your wife called, she wants her sign back!”

not with eyeserviceophthalmodouleia (“eye” + “serve”) – service performed only under the master’s eyes


Office Copier?
An ambitious, young executive is working late at corporate headquarters one evening. As he comes out of his office about 8:00 PM he sees the Big Boss standing by the shredder in the hallway, a piece of paper in his hand. “Do you know how to work this thing?” the older man asks “My secretary’s gone home and I don’t know how to run it.” “Yes, sir,” says the young executive, who efficiently turns on the machine, takes the paper from the other man, and feeds it in. “Great,” says his boss, “I just need the one copy...”
That’s the guy who is only working hard to catch the boss’ eye.

men-pleasersanthropareskos (“man” + “pleasing”) – studying to please man, courting the favor of men

Some employees will do anything just to keep the boss happy.


A salesman is called into his Boss’s office....His boss says.... We’re sending you up to Canada to be the sales rep there.... The man complains immediately.... “Canada !!! there’s nothing up in Canada but Hockey players and ugly women!!!!!” The Boss looks at him sternly and says “MY WIFE is from Canada”.  The man, thinking very quickly on his feet replies ... “Oh really???? What position does she play????? !!!!!!”


The boss returned from lunch in a good mood and called the whole staff in to listen to a couple of jokes he had picked up. Everybody but one girl laughed uproariously. “What’s the matter?” grumbled the boss. “Haven’t you got a sense of humor??” “I don’t have to laugh,” she said. “I’m leaving Friday...”

sincerityhaplotes (“not” + “folds”) – singleness, mental honesty; the virtue of one who is free from hypocrisy; nothing to hide

This is how we are to work.  We don’t work hard to be seen or to please the boss, we work hard to please someone else.

heartkardia – the heart

fearing Godphobeo – to reverence; to treat with reverential obedience

If you obey out of fear of God and not your boss, because you want to honor God, then you’ll work a little differently.

:23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,

do (1st)poieo – to make; to do

do (2nd)ergazomai – to work, labor, do work; to do, work out; to work for, earn by working, to acquire

heartilypsuche – breath; the soul

Don’t do things just for appearance, but do them from the heart, from your “soul”.

:24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

knowingeido – to see; to know; to see with the mind’s eye, signifies a clear and purely mental perception

receiveapolambano – to receive; to take again or back, to recover; to receive by way of retribution

rewardantapodosis – recompense, to reward or repay someone

inheritancekleronomia – an inheritance, property received (or to be received) by inheritance; what is given to one as a possession; the eternal blessedness of the consummated kingdom of God which is to be expected after the visible return of Christ; the share which an individual will have in that eternal blessedness

servedouleuo – to be a slave, serve, do service

This is the verb form of “bondservant”.

This could be translated as a command:  “So serve the Lord Christ”.

the Lord Christ – Paul uses the same word for “masters” (kurios), but here he clarifies that the Master we are to focus on, the Master we are to serve is Jesus, not our boss.


Figure out who you work for

Sometimes we are just serving people.
We worry about what people think.  We worry about whether the boss noticed what we did.
Larry Burkett writes,

“Those who are resentful about the success of others, whose feelings are hurt because of the lack of recognition, or who use jobs as their alter egos all suffer from the same spiritual malady: They are in service to men instead of to God. If a Christian approaches a job with the attitude that some person must recognize him as “better” or “best,” there almost always will be disappointment, because the first time the boss forgets to show appreciation, resentment creeps in.”

Sometimes we are just serving ourselves.
I’m only looking out for myself. Me, me, me. I want to be sure that I get that raise or that praise.
Sometimes it’s the wrong stuff inside me that drives me.

I’m bitter at other people who are successful, so I work hard to “show them”. Maybe I don’t work at all and just stew in my resentment.  You’re serving the wrong master.

We ought to be serving the Lord.
Joshua said,

(Josh 24:15 NKJV)  "And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

Why do we serve the Lord?

We serve Him because He loves us. Paul wrote,

(2 Cor 5:14 NKJV)  For the love of Christ compels us…

Paul was saying that Jesus’ love for Him was the thing that drove him, the thing that motivated him.

(1 Cor 13:3 NKJV)  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

I can do great things apart from love, but it doesn’t do anyone any good.

We understand His love for us best when we look at the cross.

(1 John 3:16 NKJV)  By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

(Rom 5:8 NKJV)  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

If you haven’t opened your heart yet to Jesus, serving the Lord sounds crazy.

But when someone loves you like this, how can you not respond by loving Him and serving Him?


Howard Hendricks was a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary.  Because he did a lot of traveling around the country and speaking at various meetings, American Airlines made him kind of an undercover “inspector”.  He was a guy who would write critiques about his flights, and give the reports to the managers. 

I heard him tell a story about one flight, a particularly difficult one.  The flight was filled with turbulence, fasten-your-seat-belt signs, drunk businessmen, and crying babies.  But through the whole flight, nothing stopped this one stewardess from smiling and serving politely.  At the end of the flight, he stopped to talk to her, to tell her that he was going to write a special report about her to American Airlines.  She replied, “But Mr. Hendricks, I don’t work for American Airlines.”  Seeing he had this puzzled look on his face she continued, “I work for Jesus Christ.”


Years ago I used to work at McDonnell Douglas.  Even though my dad was a very important part of the company, I was a new hire, though I had a fancy title – “Engineering Scheduling Analyst”.  The engineers used to call our job “bean counters”.  When you worked in the engineering building, there were two kinds of employees.  There were the “DAC” employees”, people who worked for McDonnell Douglass and we all had badges with a red-white-blue logo on it.  Then there were the “brown badgers”.  These guys were engineers who worked for various “temp” agencies instead of for McDonnell Douglass.  We all worked in the same building.  We all worked on the same aircraft project.  But technically the two groups worked for different employers.

God’s desire is that you be a “God-badger”.  Work for God, on loan to your current earthly employer.

What do you do when things at work aren’t going well?  Do you complain to the boss?  Or do you take it to your Boss?

What do you do when the present contract runs out and your earthly employer no longer needs your services?  You go back to your agency and see if there’s another company you can contract out to.

Who do you work for?  Can anyone tell?


Rewards come from your Boss.

If you work for people, then the only place you can expect reward from is your human boss.
Larry Burkett writes,
“It is interesting to note that the workers whose bosses praise them most highly are usually the ones who require the least praise. It takes a lot of energy to remember to praise someone for everything he or she does right. What a joy it is when a boss finds a quiet, efficient, self-starter who continually looks after the interest of other employees. Those qualities are so rare that the boss is torn between promoting that person and keeping him or her at the present job.”
“I have found a common characteristic in Christians who don’t rely on praise from others: they take literally the principle of work in Colossians 3:23-24. …The key is that they look to the Lord for their rewards, and in doing so they find God’s standards of conduct are so much higher than men’s that they surpass any bosses’ expectations.”
If you’re working for Jesus, then you’ll receive rewards from Him.
Jesus told the story about a Master who asked His servants to manage His money while He was gone.

(Mat 25:19-21 NKJV)  "After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. {20} "So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.' {21} "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'

Yes, sometimes we get earthly rewards for doing the right things.  Generally you will find that if you do the right thing, you will get promoted and you might make a better salary.  But not always.

Our reward is not always going to come in this life.  But it will still come.  We will enter into His joy.

:25 But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.

he who does wrongadikeo (“not” + “just”) – to act unjustly or wickedly, to sin

This might be referring to the slave doing the wrong thing.  It could also apply to the master doing the wrong thing.

will be repaidkomizo – to care for, take care of, provide for; to receive what was previously one’s own, to get back, receive back, recover

what he has doneadikeo – same word as above, “for what wrong thing he has done”

partialityprosopolepsia (“the face” + “to receive”) – respect of persons

To give a person a break because they’re your friend, they look pretty, or because they have a lot of money.


Punishment comes from The Boss

Some Christians get the idea that since they have been forgiven by God, that they can go and do whatever they want and not face the consequences.

“Do you believe in life after death?” the boss asked one of his employees. “Yes, Sir.” the new recruit replied. “Well, then, that makes everything just fine,” the boss went on. “After you left early yesterday to go to your grandmother’s funeral, she stopped in to see you.”

The new recruit got caught.  I find that Christians often get caught before the non-Christians.

Peter talks about suffering as a Christian:
(1 Pet 4:14-16 NKJV)  If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. {15} But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. {16} Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.

It’s one thing to go through hardship because you are following the Lord, doing the right thing, and being persecuted because you are a Christian.

But if you are suffering because you are simply a jerk, there is no blessing in your suffering.  You are suffering because you deserve it.

If you are self-employed and you are irresponsible by not returning phone calls, not completing your work on time, or not doing an excellent job, you’re not only hurting yourself, you’re hurting your witness and your customers.

If you are a Christian and you mess up at work, you will pay for it.
Not only do you have an earthly boss that you are responsible to, but you have a heavenly boss who is also concerned that you represent Him properly.
This week Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, admitted that he’s been having an affair.  It sounds like he might also be a Christian.

He’s going to have trouble, even though he’s a governor.  He’s going to have trouble, even though he’s a Christian.

Colossians 4

:1 Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Masterskurios – he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord

justdikaios – righteous, upright, virtuous

This is essentially the opposite of the word used twice in the last verse as “does wrong” and “what he has done (wrong)”

fairisotes – equality; equity, fairness, what is equitable

This is the opposite of “partiality” (3:25)

bondservantsdoulos – a slave, bondman, man of servile condition

giveparecho – to reach forth, offer; to show, afford, supply

knowingeido – to see; to know; to see with the mind’s eye, signifies a clear and purely mental perception

Master in heaven

For twenty two years I wasn’t the boss.  I’ve bussed tables in a restaurant, been a youth pastor, a teller in a bank, a “bean counter” at Douglass, and an assistant pastor.

Sometimes I don’t like being the boss.  Sometimes I almost want to run away and let someone else make decisions or tackle difficult situations.

I find it helpful to remember that I’m not really the boss, I’m just a mid-level “brown-badger”, a “God-badger” representing my Boss in heaven.


You get what you give

Because you have a Master in heaven, you can expect to get from Him what you give to your employees.
A secretary, a paralegal, and a partner in a big law firm are walking through a park on their way to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie comes out in a puff of smoke. The Genie says, “I usually only grant three wishes, so I’ll give each of you just one.” “Me first! Me first!” says the secretary. “I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.” Poof! She’s gone. “Me next! Me next!” says the paralegal. “I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of exotic foods, and the love of my life.” Poof! He’s gone. “You’re next,” the Genie says to the boss. The boss says, “I want those two back in the office right after lunch.”
Jesus has a different attitude for bosses rather than just being tough:
(Luke 6:36-38 NLT)  You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. {37} “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. Stop criticizing others, or it will all come back on you. If you forgive others, you will be forgiven. {38} If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to you.”

This doesn’t mean that you don’t discipline bad employees.  But understand that God is watching that you do it right, fairly, and compassionately.

Look back at the inner qualities of the believer back in Col. 3:12-15

May these things not only be in our hearts, and in our homes, but at work as well.