Colossians 4:2-6 “Christian Witness” Sermon Tim Black
We have now come nearly to the end of the book of Colossians. What remains in the book is today’s passage, then a long section of greetings from Paul’s fellow workers, then Paul’s farewell in 4:18. What unites these final parts of the book is that they are addressed to the Christian community as a whole. They are not addressed to individuals in their respective roles as wives and husbands, children and fathers, or slaves and masters. And these final passages do not share the particular focus on putting off the old man and putting on the Christian character of the new man. Rather, now that you have been taught to put on Christian character, and how to live in Christian relationships, Paul teaches you how to live as a Christian community. The life of a local congregation is bigger than the local congregation. It reaches out to the unbelieving world, and participates in fellowship with Christians in other congregations. So Paul teaches us in 4:2-6 about maintaining our Christian witness, and in 4:7-18 Paul shows us how we ought to send Christian greetings. As a Christian community, we witness to the world, and we send greetings to Christians.
In today’s passage, Paul teaches us to maintain our Christian witness to the world. He has already taught us much of what it means to be a Christian. In the immediately preceding verses he taught us how to live as Christians in our households, and so now is a perfect time to teach us to present Christianity to the world. Now that you have your house in order, it’s time to have an open house. Invite the neighbors in, and let them see what Christ is doing in your life. Take Christ, your Christian character, your Christian relationships in the Christian community, and pour these blessings out in your neighborhood.
Paul gives you two ways to do this. First, pray for our witness, vv. 2-4. Second, witness! (vv. 5-6)
Colossians 3:22-4:1 “Servants and Masters” Sermon Tim Black
In our passage today Paul teaches us the reciprocal duties of slaves and masters. We rarely experience slavery directly in America today, but because the relation between slaves and masters was uniquely economic we should recognize that Paul’s exhortations still apply to our roles as employers and employees.
So to help us better recognize how Paul’s words apply, I want you to think of the most disagreeable, painful, loathsome job you have ever done. The one you would easily call slave labor. Maybe it was mowing the lawn, or cleaning the bottom of a dumpster. Diapers. My father said building trails for the Forest Service as a summer job taught him that he didn’t want to do that the rest of his life. What was the worst job you ever had?
I also want you to think of the job you have right now; the main form of service to others that occupied your time this past week, or this past year.
Now in that job, you are in the position of a servant, and Paul’s words to slaves apply to you.
Length. Paul spends considerably more ink on the relations of slaves and masters than on those of husbands and wives or parents and children. This is likely because Paul’s letter to the Colossians has a special concern for a slave named Onesimus, about whom we learn in more detail in the book of Philemon.
Onesimus. Onesimus was from Colosse 4:9, and though his name means “useful” he had been a useless slave to his master Philemon, from whom he had unjustly escaped, but had become a Christian under Paul’s teaching while Paul was in prison, and so Paul rightly calls him a brother in Christ, and now that he is a believer Paul commends him to Philemon as most useful in furthering Christian ministry. Paul exhorts Philemon, if Philemon considers Paul his equal, to consider Onesimus his equal as well. Paul does not command Philemon as if Philemon is his slave, but cleverly leaves Philemon free to decide whether to treat Onesimus as a freedman or a slave.
Paul’s general response to slavery. You can see here part of Paul’s general response to slavery. Paul does not wage war against slavery, but he gives us the gospel which can leaven society so that slavery more and more becomes nonexistent. The principles of Christianity will destroy, and have destroyed, most forms of slavery with which it comes into contact.
Outline Even though today’s passage is longer than the preceding ones addressing wives and husbands and children and parents, Paul follows the same outline with which we have become familiar:
Colossians 3:20-21 - “Children and Fathers” Study Guide
Children v. 20
obey your parents in everything,
for this pleases the Lord.
Fathers v. 21
do not provoke your children,
lest they become discouraged.
What 5-7 chief kinds of authority relationships are mentioned in the Bible? Are there any other authority relationships you can think of?
In what way does the parent-child relationship take a leading role among the other authority relationships in a person’s life? Consider the promise in the 5th Commandment.
What is the main goal of the parent-child relationship?
Give some examples of some ways children should obey their parents, and some ways adult children should honor their parents.
What does it mean that children should obey their parents “in all things?”
What does the reason “for this pleases the Lord” or “for this is pleasing in the Lord” teach us about the right ways we should motivate and discipline our children? How are children concerned about pleasing others?
Is Paul addressing only fathers, or mothers as well in v. 21? Why does Paul say “Fathers” rather than “Parents?”
What are some ways to provoke your children? What are the results?
What are some ways to not provoke your children? What are the results?
How does our heavenly Father treat us, and what example does He provide us as we care for our children?
“Discouraged” in v. 21 can be loosely translated “no passion.” What is its opposite, and what biblical means should parents use to seek to not discourage their children?