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Final Greetings October 28, 2012

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Colossians 4:7-18.

Summary: Paul begins by telling the Colossians that Tychicus will bring them tidings of him; Tychicus has been 1) ministering to him and 2) laboring with him in the service of the Gospel. He desires that Tychicus would encourage them to persevere by his tidings and exhortations. Tychicus will come to them with Onesimus – who is now their trustworthy brother in Christ; he should be an object of their love.

Paul then notes that the following people send the Colossians greetings:

  • Aristarchus, who joins him in captivity
  • John Mark, who is a cousin of Barnabas; Paul has already instructed them to welcome him if he visits them
  • Jesus, who is also known as Justus
  • Epaphras, who was either born in Colosse or lived there for some time; he has rendered exceptional service in the cause of the Gospel, and he constantly struggles with God in prayer that they, along with the Laodicean and Hierapolitan believers, would be fulfilled and accomplished
  • Luke, who may have been his personal doctor
  • Demas

He also tells them to greet the believers in Laodicea, including Nympha and her house church.

Paul then exhorts the Colossians to send this letter to the believers in Laodicea after they have read it; they should then read the letter to the Ephesians that the Laodiceans will give them.

Paul also exhorts the Colossians to tell Archippus, who lives in Laodicea, to continue to discharge the duties of his ministry.

Paul concludes by telling the Colossians that he is writing this last sentence; as he is suffering for the Gospel, they should be obedient to it. He then offers them a final benediction.

Thoughts: The analogous passage in Ephesians is Ephesians 6:21-24, which I’ve blogged about. Now in verse 10, we see that Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, is commended to the Colossians. Lightfoot offers some insights on this point:

This is doubtless John Mark, who had been associated with St. Paul in his earlier missionary work (Acts 12:25; 15:37ff). This commendatory notice is especially interesting as being the first mention of him since the separation some twelve years before (Acts 15:39). In the later years of the apostle’s life he entirely effaced the unfavorable impression left by Mark’s earlier desertion (2 Timothy 4:11).

Reading this note reminded me of the critical role that restoration plays in the Christian life. Just as Paul did not reject Mark after he deserted him, Christ did not reject us after we deserted Him. Indeed, it is encouraging to see that Paul’s confidence in Mark was restored to such an extent that he commended him to the Colossians – as Paul placed the highest importance on the work of spreading the Gospel and strengthening new believers. As believers, we should be grateful for the work of Christ in restoring us to Himself; just like Mark, we should faithfully fulfill our responsibilities in the “sphere of the Spirit” in light of our restoration.

While I am on the topic of restoration, I should note the mention of Demas in verse 14. Lightfoot offers some intriguing thoughts on this point:

While Luke is described with special tenderness as our dear friend…the doctor, Demas is dismissed with a bare mention and without any epithet of commendation.

When I read this note by Lightfoot, I thought of 2 Timothy 4:10 where we see another mention of Demas (assuming that the same person is referenced in both passages). Now as 2 Timothy was written much later than Colossians, one must wonder if Paul – when he wrote Colossians – knew that Demas was headed on the path away from the “sphere of the Spirit.” If so, why did Paul mention Demas in this letter? I am also curious as to whether Demas realized the error of his ways and recommitted his life to the service of the Gospel after Paul wrote 2 Timothy. If so, I eagerly anticipate meeting Demas in the next life and hearing his inspiring story of restoration; hopefully the Bible does not contain the full story of Demas.

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