Colossians, Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern

chapter 4
1. Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly. Remember that you too have a Master in heaven.
2. Keep persisting in prayer, staying alert in it and being thankful.
3. Include prayer for us, too, that God may open a door for us to proclaim the message about the secret of the Messiah — for that is why I am in prison.
4. And pray that I may speak, as I should, in a way that makes the message clear.
5. Behave wisely toward outsiders, making full use of every opportunity —
6. let your conversation always be gracious and interesting, so that you will know how to respond to any particular individual.
Compare 1 Ke 3:15—17. The Good News of Yeshua should be communicated with prudence, tact, consideration and kindness; yet pointedly, not insipidly — the words rendered "interesting" or "engaging" mean, literally, "seasoned with salt" (compare Mt 5:13&N). Some people have the impression that believing in God and/or Yeshua is not so much un-Jewish as simply tedious, boring, dull. And there are believers who do their part to confirm this attitude by being tedious, boring and dull, seasoned with nothing. Caught up in their small world of church, Bible, and "fellowship," they fail to make full use of every opportunity to reach people who desperately need the Messiah in their life. Instead, their own lives seem dead. They seem unable to make their conversation gracious and interesting and do not know how to respond to any particular individual, because they, unlike Sha'ul (1С 9:19-23), do not try to understand people outside their own circle, whose background and experience are different. Communicating the Gospel involves listening as much as talking, and praying (vv. 2-4) more than either. 

7. Our dear brother Tychicus, who is a faithful worker and fellow-slave in the Lord, will give you all the news about me.
Tychicus. See Ер 6:2l&N. 

8. I have sent him to you for this very reason — so that you might know how we are, and so that he might encourage you.
9. I have sent him with Onesimus, the dear and faithful brother, who is one of you; they will tell you everything that has happened here.
Onesimus. See Pm 10-11&N. 

10. Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends greetings, as does Mark, Bar-Nabba’s cousin, concerning whom you have received instructions — if he comes to you, welcome him.
Aristarchus accompanied Sha'ul on his third journey through the province of Asia; he is mentioned at Ac 19:29, 20:4, 27:2 and Pm 24.

Mark (Ac 12:12&N) started out with Sha'ul on his first journey (Ac 12:25) but his premature and unauthorized departure (Ac 13:13) became the occasion for Sha'ul and Bar-Nabba's later split (Ac 15:39&N). However, the Lord can heal such breaches of trust. Mark is here seen as Sha'ul's fellow-prisoner (Pm 24) and fellow-worker (this verse); later he worked closely with Kefa (I Ke 5:13) and may have written the Gospel of Mark on the basis of material gleaned from him. 

11. Yeshua, the one called Justus, also sends greetings. These three are among the Circumcised; and among my fellow workers for the Kingdom of God, only they have turned out to be a comfort to me.
Yeshua. Greek lesous (see Ml 1:1N) appears in the New Testament as the name of two people besides the Messiah. One is the biblical Y'hoshua bin-Nun (Joshua son of Nun; Ac 7:45, MJ 4:8); the other is this man. Just as Sha'ul had the Gentile name Paul (Ac !3:9&N)and Yochanan the name Mark (v. 10, Ac 12:12&N), so this Diaspora Jew also had a Gentile name, Justus.

Among the Circumcision only these three turned out to be a comfort to Sha'ul in prison, as did the three Gentiles named in vv. 12-14. There is speculation that other Messianic Jews were unable to grasp and subscribe to Sha'ul's understanding of the Torah and therefore turned against him; this is but speculation. Gentile believers too turned against him (see two examples in 1 Ti 1:20). 

12. Epaphras sends greetings; he is one of you, a slave of the Messiah Yeshua who always agonizes in his prayer on your behalf, praying that you may stand firm, mature and fully confident, as you devote yourselves completely to God’s will.
Epaphras. See 1:7&N. 

13. For I can testify to him that he works hard for you and for those in Laodicea and Hierapolis.
14. Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send you greetings.
Luke, a fellow-prisoner who stuck with Sha'ul after Demas later fell away (Pm 24, 2 Ti 4:11). He wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts; in the latter, the "we" passages (see Ac 16:10N) describe experiences Luke shared with Sha'ul but do not include this one. 

15. Give my greetings to the brothers in Laodicea, also to Nympha and the congregation that meets in her home.
The congregation that meets in her home. See Ro 16:5N. 

16. After this letter has been read to you, have it read also in the congregation of the Laodiceans; and you, in turn, are to read the letter that will come from Laodicea.
On the basis of this verse a search has gone on for a presumably lost "Letter of Sha'ul to the Laodiceans." 

17. And tell Archippus, “See that you complete the task you were given in the Lord.”
Archippus may have been the interim shepherd of the Colossian congregation while Epaphras was with Sha'ul. 

18. This greeting I, Sha’ul, write with my own hand. Remember my imprisonment! Grace be with you!
This greeting I, Sha'ul, write with my own hand to authenticate the letter. See Ga 6:11N. 

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