Thursday, December 12, 2013

Colossians 4:2–6

2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; 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, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. 5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

The Apostle Paul in this section gives us a series of brief exhortations, beginning with exhorting us to continue earnestly (i.e. ) in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. The Apostles exhortation here is not unique to the believers there (see Rom 12:12; 1 Thess. 5:17). Indeed in the early church prayer was not just a passing formality, it was a way of life for believers (Acts 1:14; 2:42; 6:4 etc.). Just as it was in the Old Testament times when the Temple was the customary place of prayer. In fact it was because of the degradation of God's house; of turning what was once a place of prayer into a "den of thieves" where merchants could peddle their merchandise to those seeking God, which brought about the severe ire of the Lord Jesus Christ when He visited the Temple (Matt 21:12-17; John  2:13-17). Now in regards to our being earnest (or continuing on "steadfastly in prayer", ESV) the Lord Jesus Christ gave us a parable in the Gospel to do just that (see Luke 18:1-8, also consider Luke 11:5-10). For to draw near too God in prayer is not only too know God better. It is to experience His Person, Presence and Power working in and through our lives, as well as the lives of others. And that is why the Apostle Paul requested their prayers, because no man or women, no matter how mighty in the Spirit and faith is an island unto themselves. We all need each other, and this is so evident when we are actively seeking to share the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor 1:8-11). Indeed at the end of the Apostle Paul's exhortation on putting on the whole armor of God he reiterates the importance of our prayers for each other (Eph. 6:18-20). And that is one reason why we pray, to ask God to do through His power and might what we ourselves, both individually and collectively cannot (consider 2 Chr. 20:12-30). And so here the Apostle Paul had a specific prayer request and that was that God would open a door for them, that is that God would create opportunities for Paul and his co-workers in the Gospel to be able to speak the mystery of Christ, for which he was at that time in chains (i.e. imprisoned).
Now in regards to God "opening a door for them", the Apostle Paul may indeed be drawing an analogy to what happened to him and Silas while imprisoned in Philippi (please read Acts 16:16-34 to understand). Where both a literal door was opened to them, yes, but more importantly a door to the hearts of those there was opened wide to them to speak the mystery of Christ. So that through their own unjust imprisonment God not only moved the inmates hearts to heed them, but also brought about the salvation of the prison keeper and his whole household! And so Paul, though at times chained for the Gospel, new from first hand experience the Gospels' power to transcend any circumstance of life we find ourselves in (consider 2 Tim. 2:8-9). For the word of God is never "chained", nor obstructed, nor hindered, nor thwarted, by anyone, or anything. As the prophetic Word declares: 13 Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts That the peoples labor to feed the fire, And nations weary themselves in vain? 14 For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, As the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:13–14 (also consider Psalm 2; Isaiah 11:9). And so wherever you are at, in whatever circumstance of life you are at, the Word of God, the mystery of Christ, God's Glorious Gospel, is not chained from either empowering you do what God has called you to do, or being manifested and multiplied through you (consider Rom 1:16-17). For God's Mighty Power to save is always manifested and magnified through our very lives when we align ourselves with God's agenda, which is the proclamation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to one and to all. That is my prayer for you, and I pray will be your prayer for me, that we may all share the Gospel, the mystery of Christ, with one and with all as God opens the doors and creates the opportunities for us all to do so. And so in accord with this grand and glorious vision for the redemption of those hear and believe. The Apostle Paul gives us a couple of concluding exhortations on how we can actually help forward that end. First by saying that we are to walk in wisdom towards those who are outside, redeeming the time (vs. 5). To walk in wisdom towards those who are outside (of the house of faith) is to walk prudently towards them, to be neither complacent about the moral and spiritual dangers that we all face as Jesus' disciples (Matt 10:16). But more readily I believe Paul is addressing our conduct in this world, that as God's elect people redeemed by Jesus Christ, through His precious blood, by the grace of God, who though zealously sold out for Him, must choose to live tactfully within this fallen and degenerate world, and thus as much as depends on us peaceably towards all, while we are still living within it. That we are to redeem the time, means that we are to spend wisely the time given to us by God and make the most of every opportunity presented to us. For the right time or place for sharing the gospel is any place or anytime God is moving someone's heart to receive it! Finally the Apostle exhorts us all too "let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one" vs. 6  For it is our speech towards each other that will either unite us in heart, mind and purpose, or will divide us into our own isolated cliques and such as people seek refuge from abusive speech and abusive people. And so knowing the grace of Lord and Savior towards us all let us likewise be people of grace whose speech is "seasoned with salt" that is whose speech is "well seasoned" and thus adds quality of life to the hearers, both inside and outside of the house of faith (also see Eph. 4:29, 5:4).

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982

Additional Resources Consulted
Vincent, Marvin Richardson. Word Studies in the New Testament. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887.


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