Colossians 4:2-6

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 5, 2009


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

He started out by teaching us who God is and what He has done for us.

He moved on to talk about how these things work in our hearts to build qualities in us like compassion, kindness, and humility.

We’ve seen how practical these qualities are as they affect our marriages, parenting, and our relationships at work.

Paul has a few more things to encourage the Colossians in before he finishes his letter.

:2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;

prayerproseuche – prayer

This is prayer that is addressed to God.  This is prayer with a sense of devotion toward God.

Continue earnestlyproskartereo (“toward” + “to be strong”) – to adhere to one, to continue all the time in a place; to persevere and not to faint

The word seems to hint at your priorities, these are the things that you hold on to, the things that are the foundation of your life.


Do you remember this commercial from last year?
Let’s say it’s 3am, but the phone rings at your house.  The man on the line says he’s from the police, he says there’s been a terrible fire heading toward your neighborhood and you have five minutes to evacuate your house. Besides your family members, what would you stop to pick up before you head out the door?
Those would be the things that you “proskartereo”, the things you hold on to.


How about your habits? What are the habits in your life that you find important?
What are the absolutely necessary things you must do in the morning before you leave the house?
How many of you have to brush your teeth? Take a shower? Put on clean clothes? Put on a little makeup?  Eat a little breakfast?
What are the things that you must do in order to feel “ready” for the day?

This word is used 10 times in the New Testament.  When you look at how this word is used in the book of Acts, you see a pattern of what the early believers thought were important:

(Acts 1:14 NKJV)  These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
(Acts 2:42 NKJV) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Notice their habits – Bible study, fellowship, communion, and prayer
(Acts 2:46 NKJV) So continuing daily with one accord in the temple…
We call that fellowship
(Acts 6:4 NKJV) "but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
The apostles were committed to praying and the Word.


Priority One: Prayer

Paul would suggest that one of the things we would cling to would be the practice of prayer.
Have you got to the point where you realize that you MUST pray every day? Have you got to the point where you don’t quite feel ready to leave the house unless you’ve prayed?
Martin Luther (1483-1546) on prayer:
“It is well to let prayer be the first employment in the early morning and the last in the evening. Avoid diligently those false and deceptive thoughts which say, “I will pray an hour hence; I must first perform this or that.” For with such thoughts a man quits prayer for business, which lays hold of and entangles him so that he comes not to pray the whole day long.”
Prayer is the most important thing in my life. If I should neglect prayer for a single day, I should lose a great deal of the fire of faith.”
I am so busy now that if I did not spend two or three hours each day in prayer, I would not get through the day.”

We think we’re too busy to pray. 

Luther thought he was too busy NOT to pray.

being vigilantgregoreuo – to watch; from the word (egeiro) to “arise, wake up; give strict attention to

NASB – “keeping alert”; NIV – “being watchful”


Staying awake in prayer

I know what it’s like to be talking and having people falling asleep.
From July 2006 Reader's Digest:
Recently, a pastor fell asleep at the wheel and awoke just as he sideswiped a guardrail. When he got home, his wife peppered him with questions, trying to figure out what had happened. “Were you sleepy when you started to drive?” she asked. “No” he answered. “Then how did you fall asleep?” “I’m not sure,” he said. “There I was, going over my sermon...”
I wonder what God thinks when we fall asleep while we’re talking with Him?
Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years to stay awake while praying.
1. Open/close your eyes
Sometimes the things around us are distracting.
Maybe some of us are just more ADD than others.
This is why we often teach children to close their eyes and fold their hands when they pray – to keep them from getting distracted.
Sometimes closing your eyes can be trouble if you’re sleepy, so open your eyes!
2. Take a walk
Get the blood pumping.
3. Use a list
My mind wanders and I get off track. If I have a list with the things that are important for me to pray for, I can keep on track.
4. Pray out loud
Hearing the sound of your own voice can help you stay alert and focused.
If you’re self-conscious and taking a walk and you’re worried people will think you’re crazy talking to yourself, just put your Bluetooth earpiece on and people will think you’re talking to someone important.  You are.
5. Coffee
A grandmother was surprised by her 7 year old grandson one morning. He had made her coffee. She drank what was the worst cup of coffee in her life. When she got to the bottom, there were three of those little green army men in the cup. She said, “Honey, what are the army men doing in my coffee?” Her grandson said, “Grandma, it says on TV-‘The best part of waking up is soldiers in your cup!’”
Start the morning right.

thanksgivingeucharistia – thankfulness; the giving of thanks; the grateful acknowledgment of God’s mercies


Thanksgiving and peace

One of the benefits of prayer is the peace that God gives when you pray.
(Phil 4:6-7 NKJV)  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; {7} and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

It seems to me that the key to receiving God’s peace in prayer is by learning to pray with thanksgiving.

Sometimes when I pray I don’t get less anxious, I get more anxious.  I focus on the problem and feel even more weighed down than before.

When I learn to put the request into God’s hands and leave it there, that’s when I experience God’s peace.

I know that I’ve successfully put something into God’s hands when I can say to God, “Thank you for dealing with this situation in the way that You feel is best”.

:3 meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains,

prayingproseuchomai – to offer prayers, to pray

meanwhilehama – at the same time, at once, together; Paul doesn’t just want them to pray generally, but to pray also for him.

us – Paul, and those that were with him:  Timothy, Aristarchus, Mark, Justus, and Epaphras.

Paul is not the only one who wants to speak about Jesus.

would openanoigo – to open

doorthura – a door; “an open door” is used of the opportunity of doing something

wordlogos – word

Lightfoot interprets, “a door of admission for the Word, i.e., an opportunity of preaching the gospel.”

to speaklaleo – to utter a voice or emit a sound; to speak

mysterymusterion – hidden thing, secret

What is the “mystery”?

We’ve seen this before. The “mystery” was that us pig-dog-heathen Gentiles could be saved. This was something unimaginable to a Jew in Paul’s day.
Paul writes about it to the Ephesians
(Eph 3:6 NKJV) that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,

in chainsdeo – to bind, fasten with chains, to throw into chains  (“Day-oh!!)

Paul was in prison in Rome, handcuffed to a Roman soldier twenty-four hours a day.

He was in prison because of his ministry with Gentiles.

He was arrested originally in Jerusalem because the Jews thought he was causing too much trouble around the world talking about Jesus.  They accused him of bringing a Gentile into the Temple in Jerusalem.

:4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

manifestphaneroo – to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown, to manifest, whether by words, or deeds, or in any other way

I oughtdei – it is necessary, there is need of, it behooves, is right and proper

from deo – to bind, fasten with chains, to throw into chains

to speaklaleo – to utter a voice or emit a sound; to speak


Open doesn’t mean easy

We often use the concept of an “open door” as an opportunity in front of us.
When you are looking for a job, and someone actually makes you a job offer, we call that an “open door”.
This is one of the ways in which God reveals His will to us, through circumstances.

Let’s say that you feel that it is God’s will that you marry a girl with green skin. You are convinced that this is what God’s will is for you. And so you pray every day for God to bring you a woman with green skin. And you pray. And you pray. But you never meet anyone with green skin.

Could it be possible that God doesn’t want you to marry someone with green skin? Could it be that your “wishes” are simply not what God desires for you, nor is best?

God uses circumstances like this to shape us and direct us.

But be careful how you view your circumstances.
Not all opportunities are easy. Look at Paul’s “open door”:

(1 Cor 16:8-9 NKJV) But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. {9} For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.


Difficulty + prayer = fruit

God is very much able to work in our lives, even when our lives are difficult.
I often use my difficulties as an excuse NOT to do what God wants.
Yet God wants to work in spite of my difficulties.
Paul could have quit when he wound up being arrested in Jerusalem. But he couldn’t quit.
(Acts 23:11 NKJV) But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, "Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome."

God still had work for Paul, even as a prisoner.

When Paul ended up being shipped to Rome, and the ship got hopelessly lost in a storm, he could have quit, but he didn’t. In fact, Paul was praying for God’s help for all the people on the boat when an angel appeared to him:
(Acts 27:24 NKJV) "saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.'
And now that Paul has been delivered as a prisoner to Rome, did he quit? No.
At the same time that Paul was writing to the Colossians asking for prayer, he penned a letter to the Philippians:

(Phil 1:12-14 NKJV) But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, {13} so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; {14} and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

It seems that there was a constant stream of men assigned to guard Paul by being chained to him. And it seems that Paul decided to take the opportunity to share Christ to the men he was chained to. Apparently many of these guards came to know Christ.

How did Paul do it?
When you add prayer to a difficult time, God brings fruit.
Note that Paul doesn’t ask them to pray that he will endure. He doesn’t ask for them to pray that his difficulty ends.
He prays that doors of opportunity will open.

:5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.

wisdomsophia – wisdom, broad and full of intelligence; devout and proper care in interaction with men not followers of Christ

walkperipateo – to make one’s way, progress; Hebrew for “to live”

outside – Who are those “outside”? Those who don’t believe in Jesus.

People are watching you. They are looking for reasons not to believe. They need to see reasons to believe.

Your “walk” isn’t something people hear. It’s something people see.

timekairos – a specific measure of time

There are two words in Greek that can be translated “time”. One means simply “time” in general, this one speaks of specific, limited times; opportune times.

We’re not to just be redeeming the clocks of the world, we are “redeeming” specific periods of time, times that present opportunities.

redeemingexagorazo – payment of a price to recover from the power of another

It’s seeing a moment in time as something that the enemy has kidnapped. You are willing to pay the price to buy back that moment as an opportunity for God to work.

The price?  Not money.  We spend ourselves. We spend our reputation.

Esther faced one of those moments. She was a beautiful Jewish girl who had become the queen of the empire. She found out that an evil plot had been hatched to wipe out her entire race. She was in a unique position to do something, but she hesitated. She might risk her position. She might even be killed herself. Her cousin Mordecai told her:

(Est 4:14 NKJV) "For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
Esther “redeemed” the “time” by risking her position and even her life in exposing the plot and saving her people.

Paul now gives a little insight in how to “redeem” the time.

:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

speechlogos – a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea

gracecharis – grace; that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: good will, loving-kindness, favor

salthalas – salt with which food is seasoned and sacrifices are sprinkled; wisdom and grace exhibited in speech

(Mat 5:13 NKJV)  "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

Plutarch uses salt of speech, the wit which flavors speech (cf. Attic salt).

Our word salacious is this same word degenerated into vulgarity.

Grace and salt (wit, sense) make an ideal combination.

seasonedartuo – to prepare, arrange, with respect to food; to season, make savory

You could translate this first phrase as, “Let your speech always be seasoned by grace-salt …”

Paul wrote to the Ephesians:

(Eph 4:29 NKJV) Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

oughtdei – it is necessary, is right and proper; from deo – to bind, fasten with chains

In verse 3, Paul reminded them of his own, real “chains”

In verse 4, Paul talked about how he “ought” to speak. He was “chained” to speak.

In verse 6, Paul reminds us that we are “chained” to speak as well. The point comes across strong considering Paul’s own chains.

to answerapokrinomai – to give an answer to a question proposed, to begin to speak, but always where something has preceded (either said or done) to which the remarks refer

People are saying and doing things that need answers.


Reaching the Lost

Paul gives us some insight into how to reach lost people.
1. Prayer
Paul set the example by asking for prayer that opportunities would come.
Do you pray for opportunities to share your faith?

That is a prayer that God is going to answer.

Do you pray regularly for people you know that don’t know the Lord?
I find that it’s also important that God would give me a heart for lost people.

When I don’t have a “heart” to reach lost people, I become either annoyed by them or afraid of them.

We can develop a lifestyle where we surround ourselves with “safe” people, other Christians.

But God hasn’t left us in this world to be “safe”. He’s left us in this world to reach a lost world.

Does it bother you that people are dying and going to hell? It ought to bother you.

We’ve got six weeks left until the Harvest Crusade. This is going to be an awesome opportunity for people you know to come to Christ. But it needs to start with prayer. Pray for the Crusade. Pray for your friends who need to go to the Crusade.
2. Wise living
People are watching how you live your life. We need to walk with “wisdom”
Paul writes to the Ephesians:

(Eph 5:15-16 NKJV) See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, {16} redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

To “walk circumspectly” is the idea of looking around, being careful of how you walk.

Davida Dalton writes: It was a busy day in our Costa Mesa, California home. But then, with 10 children and one on the way, every day was a bit hectic. On this particular day, however, I was having trouble doing even routine chores-all because of one little boy.
Len, who was three at the time, was on my heels no matter where I went. Whenever I stopped to do something and turned back around, I would trip over him. Several times, I patiently suggested fun activities to keep him occupied. “Wouldn’t you like to play on the swing set?” I asked again.
But he simply smiled an innocent smile and said, “Oh, that’s all right, Mommy. I’d rather be in here with you.” Then he continued to bounce happily along behind me.
After stepping on his toes for the fifth time, I began to lose my patience and insisted that he go outside and play with the other children. When I asked him why he was acting this way, he looked up at me with sweet green eves and said, “Well, Mommy, in preschool my teacher told me to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. But I can’t see him, so I’m walking in yours.”
Our children are watching, but so is the rest of the world. Some are looking for reasons to believe. Others are looking for reasons not to believe.  Walk wisely.
3. Gracious words
Sometimes we think that we need snappy, smart comebacks when we talk about the Lord.

We think that the person who is quickest with their “gospel-gun”, to quote a Scripture and tell someone to repent is how you talk to an unbeliever.

Some of us fall into the trap of thinking that we need to be smart enough to “win the argument”.

You might win the argument, but you’ll lose the person.

It is good to know answers to sincere questions. It is good to know that there ARE answers to difficult questions.

But the way to “answer” is with words seasoned with “grace”.

Paul wrote to Timothy:

(2 Tim 2:24-26 NKJV) And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, {25} in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, {26} and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

Sometimes it helps to remember that the unbeliever you work or live with is not the enemy. But they are held captive by the enemy. They are the hostage that needs to be rescued.

We need to cultivate gentleness, patience, and humility along with our gracious words.

Prayer.  Wise living.  Gracious Words.