Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | January 28, 2007

Colossians – Part 20

What book of the Bible does not mention God by name? 

Colossians – Part 20: Public Life 

1.  How have we been buried with Christ? Col 2:12

2. What is the peace of Christ? Col 1:19-22

Holiness in Public Life (Ch 4:2-6):  Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; (3) praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; (4) that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.  (5) Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.  (6) Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.   (Verses in Greek attached for reference). 

Paul here concludes his instructions to the believers in defining the implications of our behavior as a result of putting on the new self.  After describing those implications on family and work life, he now provides some words for our behavior in public.  He begins this section by giving the believers a command to be devoted to prayer (sim Acts 2:42 and Romans 12:12).  The word proskartereite can also be rendered as being “persistent” or “continuing in”.  This model of being devoted to prayer was given to us by our Lord and should also be apparent in our lives as well.  This persistent and devoted prayer, however should be performed in an attitude of thanksgiving.  Paul had previously alluded to this instruction of being thankful, in his prayer for the believers in 1:9-12.  Thus, our prayers should not be absent of the gratitude for what God has already graciously done.  Almost in a parenthetical manner, Paul now provides something for the believers to pray for, which is his ministry of proclaiming the mystery of Christ. He alludes to the mystery of Christ, which was previously defined (1:25-27) as the message of the Gospel that now includes the salvation of the Gentiles (non-Jews).  This provides a worthy example of an item that should be included in our persistent praying, that is for the proclamation of the Gospel message to be delivered clearly (and accurately) and that God would open doors for it to be heard.  He then resumes the commands for living to the believer by instructing them to walk in wisdom and how to interact with others.   

Paul continues to reinforce the teaching in previous portions of the letter, by referring to the true mystery and to true wisdom.  Despite the false teacher’s message, the true mystery and the true wisdom were to only be found in Jesus Christ.  Christ who being God, did not forsake His mission of salvation, which required taking on a physical form (1:19-22).  Of course this mystery, that God became man, was a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles (1 Corinth 1:21-31). Paul gives the believers in the passage instructions on aiding the spread of this truth.  They must be persistent in prayer, praying for the message to be heard and communicated well.  They must be a good witness to others displaying the power of the Gospel in their lives, acting and speaking in wisdom and using their time wisely.  These attributes will characterize the Christian who puts on the new self.  Although, imperfectly, over time the Holy Spirit will cause the Christian to more and more display these fruits of the Spirit in their lives.  Unlike the false teacher whose practices were “of no value” (2:23) and done for self-seeking reasons, the believers actions have a purpose not only in personal piety, but in advancing the kingdom of God.            

3.  What are some examples to things we are devoted to?  What does Paul say we should be devoted to doing?     

4.  How does one pray in a persistent manner?

5.  What types of things should we pray for? (Matt 6:9-13)  With what type of attitude are we to have?

6.  What would happen if we were truly devoted to prayer?  Who was truly devoted to pray?  John 17:1-26

Continue in prayer:  “Farther, as to prayer, he commends here two things; first assiduity; secondly, alacrity, or earnest intentness.  For, when he says, continue, he exhorts to perseverance, while he makes mention of watching in opposition to coldness, and listlessness.  He adds, thanksgiving, because God must be solicited for present necessity in such a way that, in the mean time, we do not forget favors already received.  Farther, we ought not to be so importunate as to murmur, and feel offended if God does not immediately gratify our wishes, but must receive contentedly whatever he gives.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians      

7.  What was Paul’s prayer request?    

8.  Why should we pray for this?

9.  Does God use our prayers to accomplish His means?

10. Why was Paul in prison?  Could you imagine being in jail for this?

Pray also for us:  “Consider, too, at the same time, his amazing ardor of zeal.  He is not solicitous as to his behalf, that he may be delivered from danger of death.  He is contended with this one thing, that he may, unconquered and undaunted, persevere in a confession of the gospel; nay more, he fearlessly make his own life a secondary matter, as compared with the glory of Christ and the spread of the gospel.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 

11.  How are we to conduct ourselves?

12.  Where do we find wisdom?  Colossian 2:2-6

13.  What is making the most of the opportunity?

14.  What is an example of this? Acts 17:22-34

15.  How should we do this?

As I ought:  “Farther, as Paul here does nothing else than desire that grace may be given him for the discharge of his office, let us bear in mind that a rule is in like manner prescribed to us, not to give way to the fury of our adversaries, but to strive even to death in the publication of the gospel.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 

16.  How should our speech be delivered?

17.  How do we fail to do this?

18.  What should we be ready to do for each person?

Walk wisely:  There are three reasons:  first, “lest any stumbling block be put in, the way of the blind, (Leviticus 19:14) for nothing is more ready to occur, than that unbelievers are driven from bad to worse through our imprudence, and their minds are wounded, so that they hold religion more and more in abhorrence.  Secondly, it is lest any occasion may be given for to detracting from the honor of the gospel, and thus the name of Christ be exposed to derision, persons be rendered more hostile, and disturbances and persecutions be stirred up.  Lastly, it is, lest, while we are mingled together, in partaking of food, and on other occasions, we be defiled by their pollutions, and by little and little become profane.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 

Answers to Colossians Part 20: 

  1. We have been buried with Christ in our baptism.  Baptism is the sign of God’s covenant in the New Testament, which has replaced circumcision the sign from the Old Testament.  Baptism is a sacrament that signifies many things, such as the washing away of our sins and the pouring of the Spirit onto our lives.  In Colossians, Paul indicates that it signifies our being spiritually circumcised by Christ in the removing of our sins.  He goes on to say that through our baptism we identify with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.  We are buried with Him in baptism and raised through faith in Him.
  2. Back in chapter one Paul explains that before we were Christians, we were alienated or enemies with God.  This was due to our sin and rebellion against Him that we inherited from our father Adam.  However, God chose not to leave everyone in their sin and misery.  He sent His Son into the world in fulfillment of the many promises in the Old Testament.  Jesus was born into this world to reconcile His people with God.  This reconciliation, however came at enormous cost.  God being just must bring all sin and rebellion to justice.  The sins that we committed are not paid by us, though.  God can overlook our sin because Jesus bore the penalty for our sins.  The penalty for sin is eternal damnation, or hell.  Thus, Jesus took hell in our place.  And not only did he pay the price for our sins, Jesus while living in this world was perfectly obedient to God and committed no sin.  He was completely righteous in all things and He gives that perfect righteousness to us as a gift.  When we put our faith in Christ this gift is ours and it results in peace with God.  This is the true peace of Christ, which is going from being enemies with God to being His children. 
  3. People are devoted to many things.  Some people our devoted to their spouses, children, jobs, football teams, cars, TV shows, movie stars, drugs or alcohol, even studying.  Some of these things are good and some are not.  However, in this letter Paul tells us to be devoted to prayer.
  4. First one must remember to pray often in order to be persistent.  Regular times for praying could be established whether once or twice a day.  Or, one could make it a point to pray spontaneously throughout the day as the need or desire arises.  Essentially, one can only be persistent in praying if they pray often. 
  5. The Lord’s Prayer is a wonderful pattern for things that we should be praying.  The topics within in this prayer range from asking that God’s name be made holy to asking that our daily needs be supplied.  No matter what form we choose to model our prayers, they should all be done in an attitude of thanksgiving.  It is apparent that we will be unable to achieve this attitude unless we are aware of the marvelous and gracious things that the Lord has done for us in the Gospel.
  6. When we are honest with ourselves we can admit that we are truly not devoted to prayer as we should be.  We could always pray more than we are already doing.  If we did, however, truly devote ourselves to persistent and God honoring prayer our lives would probably be a lot more consistent with God’s word and His will.  Of course, we see this in a Person who was truly devoted to prayer, namely Christ our Lord.  He remains diligent in His intercession for us before the Father.  We should not be discouraged to think that nobody is praying for us, because if we are Christ’s, then we have a perfect intercessor.  You can read a sample of this in John 17.
  7. Paul’s request was for the Colossians to pray that God would open doors for Him to preach the Gospel and that he would communicate it clearly.
  8. We should pray for this, so that the saving message of the Gospel would be proclaimed to others.  That they might believe and possess the salvation that we now enjoy.  This will have eternal consequences for everyone in the world.  Thus, we should be devoted to praying for pastor’s, for elders, for missionaries, for teachers and those who train them in order for that message to be proclaimed.
  9. Yes, God uses our prayers to accomplish his means everyday.  This is evident in my own life and is probably in yours as well.  When we pray we partake in the glorious plan that God has for history.  This is humbling to know and honor that we should such an integral part in our Creators work.
  10. Paul was in prison for his bold proclamation of the Gospel.  It is almost impossible for this to happen in our country, because of our Constitution.  However, just imagine would you keep your faith if it meant jail time.  Based on some of the frivolous ways we deny our faith everyday it makes us wonder if we would have the courage.  Here is something else we should add to our list of things to pray for…the courage to stand for the faith amidst whatever challenges may confront us.
  11. Paul tells us to conduct ourselves with wisdom.
  12. As Paul pointed out earlier in the letter, in Christ are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Therefore, it is in Christ that we are to find wisdom.  We find Christ in the Scriptures, so the primary place we should be looking for wisdom is in the Word of God.
  13. Making the most of every opportunity would be reacting in a manner that the Scriptures direct us too.  It would also mean that we wouldn’t waste opportunities by being lazy, unwise, fearful or disobedient.  Obviously, this is very difficult and we will fail to do this.  Nonetheless, it should be our goal and we should strive to do this with the help of the Holy Spirit to glorify Christ in all situations.
  14. Paul’s visit to
    Athens provides a good example of making the most of an opportunity.  He examined the situation in
    Athens and understood about their way of life and used that prior knowledge to present the Gospel in an effective way.
  15. First, we need to prepare ourselves so that we are ready when an opportunity is presented to us.  However, this does not preclude us from trying in the meantime.  We prepare ourselves by understanding our faith and having confidence in expressing it accurately.  This obviously will take time and work to accomplish.  Second, we should seek to understand our audience and begin to learn what may be some of the objections they might have.  This will help us to be able to respond to them.  It will also help to present the Gospel in a more effective way just as Paul did at
    Athens.   Finally, we should be devoted to praying that we use opportunities wisely and those who hear the word to be convicted of God’s grace. It should be clarified, however, someone’s conversion does not depend on the effectiveness of the Gospel presentation.  No, it’s a matter of the Holy Spirit working in the listener’s life to bring about faith and repentance. 
  16. Our speech should always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt.
  17. We fail to do this when we participate in gossip, in foul/vulgar language, in lying, in disrespectful talk, in uncaring or inconsiderate talk.  We can go on in all the ways we fail to let our speech be with grace.  This inability to fully control our speech should lead us to repentance and into praise for the grace that we have in Christ.  Although, we hurt and sin others through our speech (especially those closest to us) God still forgives us and calls us to excellence in our speech.
  18. We should be ready to respond to each person for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15).

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