Colossians 4:3-4; Brief Thoughts

At the same time, pray also for us, that God may eopen to us a door for the word, fto declare the mystery of Christ, gon account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. [1]

Urging believers to remain consistent in prayer, Paul couples his exhortation with a practical request. Paul calls the believing church of Colossae to pray for him while he is in prison. It was a basic understanding of first-century Christianity that believers would think about and pray for other believers in prison (Heb. 13:3). Somewhere along the line, the modern Christian culture of the west has forgotten or at least neglected the normative understanding of suffering together in spirit. When in a modern church, one must not bring up suffering or imprisonment of believers. It will certainly make everyone uncomfortable to consider the weight of brothers and sisters who suffer persecution. Yet, for the early church, persecution was something in which to rejoice (see Paul and Silas’ example in Acts 16:16-40). Even Jesus’ teachings included an understanding that persecution would result in blessing (Mt. 5:10). So, it should be a primary delight of the Christian community to support the persecuted brothers in prayer.

Paul’s request seems radical in that he does not ask for freedom from prison, or health, or even favor from the prison guards. Rather, Paul’s chief concern is that he would be able to share the gospel. The very same gospel that landed him in prison. Unlike many modern pastors who seek lavish comfort, luxurious lifestyles, and easy circumstances, Paul longs only for the word of God to be made clear. It is this severe discrepancy between Paul’s faithful ministry and the modern charlatan that makes his request seem radical. Indeed, his request is actually simple and normal. A believer understands that God is sovereign over his/her particular circumstance. Therefore, a believer finds purpose even when imprisoned. So Paul seeks prayer support for the proclamation of the gospel.

There are three elements to Paul’s request for prayer support. First, he requests that there would be an opportunity, referred to as an “open door.” A door for the gospel may open, and yet a believer may fail to take advantage of that opportunity. Paul is willing to take the opportunity, he simply needs to have the opportunity placed before him. Further, he asks specifically that God would open the door. Paul recognizes that God must be the one moves in the heart of man to open the door to the gospel. It is a necessity for the Spirit of God to move in order for the gospel to permeate the heart of a man. No amount of clever argumentation or apologetic can open the heart of a man. The wickedness of the heart is too great, God must intervene. So it is God who opens the door for the gospel.

Second, Paul asks that they would pray that he declares the “mystery of Christ.” Paul elaborates on this mystery earlier in Colossians 1:26-27. The mystery that Paul proclaims is that of Christ making his dwelling place in the heart of those who believe. Once God has opened the door, Paul asks for prayer that he would take advantage of the opportunity.

Third, Paul seeks the covering of prayer “that [he] would make it clear.” He wants to speak the gospel with clarity and conviction. The gospel must be clear. In order for the gospel to be clear, the gospel must be what is preached. It is not good to teach people to simply behave better. It is not adequate to teach people how to feel better. It is not glorifying to God to proclaim something other than the truth of the gospel. The gospel must be presented clearly! That is, “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared the Cephas, then to the twelve, then he appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time…” (1 Cor. 15:3-6). So Paul wants the gospel to be clearly presented no matter the circumstance. Whether in prison or free, the gospel ought to be preached with clarity, boldness, taking every opportunity.

e See Acts 14:27

f See Rom. 16:25

g ver. 18; Eph. 6:20; See Phil. 1:7

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Col 4:3–4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s