BIBLE STUDY: PART 15
V 1: Master, or employers, are admonished to treat their “slaves” fairly. The NKJV says, “just and fair.” The NAS says, “With justice and fairness.” Both translation tell us the same thing. We are to treat everyone the same. We know we have a Master in heaven who is fair to us. He gives the same rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. He shines the same sun on the crops of the saved and the unsaved.
We can learn a good lesson in Deuteronomy 25:13-15. We are not to have unequal measures for people. We are to have, “perfect and just weights” and “perfect and just measures.” What we give out to one person we should be willing to give to anyone who needs it. Let’s read Proverbs 16:11, "A just weight and balance are the LORD's: all the weights of the bag are his work,"and Habakkuk. 2:4, "Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. "
One way we can live out this percept is to give to everyone equally. If two of my friends were here to visit and I gave one a chocolate whipped cream cake, and gave the other a cookie, that’s unbalanced giving. It would cause strife between them, and ultimately between us. If I want to give evenly as my heavenly Master gives, I would have to give them each a cake, or a cookie. The content of the gift is not important, the thought behind it is. I value both of these brethren equally.
Watch this now! We are to treat the unsaved just as we do the saved! It is not alright to give my friend a cake, and the drunk across the street a cookie. If we are to follow what God shows us, we must give each of them an identical gift. Luke 6:37,38, "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." We are not to judge, or condemn others, but forgive them, and give them good gifts. (“Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” )
V 2: "Continue in prayer, being vigilant and with thanksgiving." To see a good example of this type of prayer, let’s go to Luke 18:1-8. This widow wanted what was right. She wanted justice for herself against her enemy. Nowhere in these verses are we told what the problem was, or who her adversaries were. We are simply informed that by continually making petition before the judge, she wore him down, and got what she wanted. Does that mean we can ever wear God down and make Him give us what’s not right? No, of course not. This is an exercise in persistence. If you want something badly enough, keep it before God until He gives you a definite "yes" or "no" to your request.
We are to pray vigilantly, giving thanks for all things. Let’s read Philippians 4:6, 7, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." We are to be anxious for nothing. Mr. Webster says that anxious means to be, “full of mental distress or uneasiness because of fear of danger and misfortune; to worry.” To worry means to fret, to fret means to wring your hands anxiously. Christians are not supposed to get into anxiety and worry. We have a Master in heaven who gives us what we need when we ask Him with “prayer and supplication, and thanksgiving.” When we pray this way, we know the peace of God. When we are at peace, we can be in joy.
I Thes. 5:14-24 seems to be the culmination of this precept. We are to warn, comfort, uphold and be patient. We are to pursue what is good for ourselves and everyone else. We are to treat each other with equality and love.
V 3: Paul once again requests prayer for himself and the other apostles. We can find him asking this in Romans 15:30; Ephesians. 6:19; I Thes. 5:25 and 3:1. He knew the value of prayer and sought it from everyone. He wanted utterance both in the written, (Ephesians.3:3), and the oral word (Ephesians. 6:19). He wanted God to make places for him to share the Word with the lost. Opening doors is what God does, and our prayers for leaders helps them find those right doors. He wants to reveal the mysteries. Colossians 1:26,27; 2:2. When we uphold our leaders with prayer, the mysteries are revealed to them in their own study times, and they can help you to understand them as they teach. Pray for your leaders.
BIBLE STUDY: PART 16
V.5- “Walk in wisdom.” Someone who is wise has discernment, insight. He has the power to judge what is true and right. So, we have to be wise toward the unsaved. We have to discern what is good behavior in front of them. Never do we want to portray ourselves as hypocrites. The works we do before them need to speak God to them. Our works should prove the evidence of God in our lives.
As Christ followers, we are sent out as sheep into the wolf pack (Matthew 10:16: Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves). But we have been armed for the battle (Ephesians 6:10-18: Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints...). When the unsaved look at us, they should see in us the wisdom of the Lord. They should wonder what we know that they don’t. Our lives need to be a walk that demonstrates our faith and love for God. Let’s read the following Scripture here to get a better view of this. I Thessalonians 4:1-12, "Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit. But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing." We need to “Abound” more and more. We need to believe our labor is not in vain. Abound is to exist in great quantity or number. Our works need to be many.
Any of the sins listed in these verses of I Thessalonians 4 that we might do could be the stumbling block that keeps someone from coming to the Lord for salvation. The Holy Ghost might drawing this person to God and our witness is pushing him away. We need to be sober, gentle, good natured, smiling, and in control. Joyce Meyer said that if you are saved, you aught to inform your face. By our fruits they will know us (Matthew. 7:20).
The time spoken of in verse 5 is not chronological time as we think of it. It is kairos (kahee-ross). This is the quality of time, not the quantity. We need to make the most of every opportunity we are given to show Christ in us. Our time may be shorter than any of us thinks. We may not be here tomorrow to do whatever we thought could wait. Let’s read James 4:13-17, "Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." The works we are given to do by the Spirit of God each day need to be done that day. Putting them off can prove to be the cause of eternal damnation for the person we could have touched for the Lord. The time is now. Redeem each day as though it were a coupon you were given that expires today. Do you redeem coupons to save on groceries? Well this coupon allows you to save on lives.
V.6-"Always with grace and seasoned with salt." What is grace? According to Mr. Webster, “It is a manifestation of favor shown by a superior, and it is the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God; it is the influence or Spirit if God operating in humans; the condition of being in God’s favor, or one of the elect.” God’s grace is what leads us to perfection. Please read Romans 5:1-5. We have been justified, dikaioo (dik-ah-yah-oh), We have been shown mercy, and have been pardoned of all sin. It is God’s standing and Christ’s merit on our lives forever. God sent His Son, who is God’s grace, and He, Jesus, died to deliver us. It is His excellence and worth that we now are part of. We never have to seek our own merit.
To have speech that has grace, it must be kind and gentle; it must be merciful to others. (Ecclesiastes 10:12). We should never call people names, or speak harshly to them. We must especially be careful of that out in the community.
Our words must be seasoned with salt. Salt is a preservative. When sacrifices of grain were made by the priests, they were seasoned with salt (Leviticus 2:13). This salt is called the “salt of the covenant of your God.”
Salt was also used then to dry fish and meats. When the people caught their fish, they covered them in salt and left them in the sun to cure. This would keep the fish good for a very long time. We still can buy salted cod. The same thing was true for their meats. Jerky comes to mind. Corned beef is another one. You can buy salted capers in a jar. For vegetables, sauerkraut comes to mind. I don’t know all the things that are salted to preserve them, but there are many things.
Please read Mark 9:50a, "Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it?" Isn’t that a good question? If salt, the condiment that adds so much flavor to everything, looses its flavor, how can we season it? This implies that we can’t flavor salt. It is a natural flavoring from sea or land. We can’t add salt to salt, and make the tasteless salt flavorful again. Let’s read Matthew 5:13, "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of me." for the answer to this question. Therefore, we are to protect our salt so that we can do what Mark 9:50a says. (Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another).
If grace is the unmerited favor of God, and our speech must be always with grace, doesn’t it make sense that our speech must give others unmerited favor? In other words, if someone calls you a jerk, and you return the favor, is your speech showing unmerited favor to that person? No. Is it showing our salty flavor, no. What is it doing? It is showing our immaturity.
Salt is a symbol of hospitality. When you serve your guests, you must always put a salt shaker, or dish of salt, out for them to flavor their foods with. When we season our speech with salt, it is savory, flavorful for others to taste. Not sour or unpalatable. They can taste what we say and agree that it is good. This is how we have to be ready to answer questions about God. We need gracious words, seasoned with salt, that do not offend, but sink in and preserve. We must always be ready in season and out (II Timothy. 4:2) to make a defense for the Lord (I Peter 3:13-17).
BIBLE STUDY: PART 17
V.7- Tychicus was Asian by birth. His name translates to mean fortunate. (There is some discussion about this being Fortunatus in I Corinthians 16:17 because Tychicus and Fortunatus are translated to mean the same thing.) Tychicus was one of the original 70 sent out two by two by Jesus in Luke 10: 1-12. They were to go out as lambs among the wolves to heal the sick and preach the kingdom of God. I found in my research that Tychicus was the bishop of Chalcedon, and was employed by Paul as a messenger to Colosse, and at Ephesus (Ephesians 6:21). He was sent to tell the Christians about his wellness, and his conditions in the prison in Rome. Paul had Tychicus tell them that he was still continuing to preach the Word and to see new converts even from his cell. But mostly that he was beginning to understand more about the Love of Christ for himself. Paul was in prison for the Gospel and Jesus was there with him, giving support.
To give Tychicus more credibility, Paul called him a “beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord.” He called him a fellow servant in the Lord. Someone who was selected to preach the Word and carry the Gospel to unsaved people. There is no great commendation that could be given Tychicus by the great church leader than this. He was not nearly as well qualified for the job as Paul and the other apostles were, but Paul still called him “fellow servant.” What a neat thing that was for him.
V.8- Now look at this. Paul is sitting in prison in chains. He could not walk about, he sat it sewage to his shoulders. He couldn’t lay down to sleep, yet he was concerned about whether or not the people were keeping the ordinances and keeping order in the churches. He wanted to make sure the churches were growing and making new disciples. He wanted to be sure no false teachers had entered in their midst and that love was still ruling there. He wanted to be sure a spirit of depression had not come over the churches because of what the apostles suffered, or even what they themselves were suffering from their enemies. Paul sent out Tychicus to demonstrate something we should all be doing for each other in the church. He sent him to encourage the Christians, and bring them comfort. What a concept! He wanted the people at Colosse and at Ephesus to know what he was going through. He also wanted them to know he understood what they were suffering. That’s love.
V.9- Onesimus was Philemon’s servant. When he ran away, he met Paul and was converted to Christianity. He became a minister of the Gospel, and he served Paul very well. At one point Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon. He wanted Onesimus to remain and care for his needs, but it had to be because Philemon granted him his freedom, not because Paul took him in. Let’s look at Philemon 8-16, "Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient, Yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me: Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels: Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel: But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly. For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?" Paul sent him back as a “brother”, a fellow Christian, and as his own heart. That, my friends is love.
Since Onesimus was sent along with Tychicus, they could be testimony of all that was happening to Paul in prison, and to the church in Rome.
V.10- 11- Aritarchus, a fellow prisoner with Paul, was sentenced for the same reason, preaching the Gospel. Since Paul called him a fellow worker (Philemon 24), we know that’s most likely why he was in jail. Mark is the guy who deserted Paul on their first missionary trip. He ran away (Acts 15:36-39). Even so, Paul speaks highly of him in Colossians verse 11, along with the others. Barnabas, Justus, whose name means righteous, and all whom Paul mentioned were circumcised Jews, either by birth, or by conversion. Each of them brought comfort and consolation to Paul as he sat in his chains. Some would say that Paul wasn’t in chains in his room in Rome, but he says it himself in verse 18, “Remember my chains.” So these men visited Paul, prayed with him, provided whatever he needed to be comfortable, and all this as they continued to preach the Word.
BIBLE STUDY: PART 18
V.12- Epaphras was born and raised in Colosse, so when Paul calls him, “one of you.” he means it in the sense of a neighbor to them as well as in the sense of being a Christian servant. He was also a faithful minister of the Gospel. He preached God’s Word to the unsaved world and to the Christians of the day.
Epaphras' greeting to the people in Colosse was genuine and loving. He really cared very much about them as is demonstrated in the following, “Always laboring for you in prayer.” Some translations say “wrestling for you.” What does that phrase mean, always laboring in prayer? The word labor means physical or mental work, especially of a hard or fatiguing kind. He was carrying a heavy burden for them in his prayer times. He was uplifting them and praying for them to remain faithful to God and to each other. Epaphras was fighting the good fight on their behalf. As pastor of the church at Colosse, Epaphras never forgot to mention his flock before the Lord. John Gill and Walvoord and Zuck say in their commentaries that he “wrestled with the Lord as Jacob wrestled with the angel, not letting go until he received a blessing.” He wanted blessings on them, and he worked hard to seek them out.
Why was he engaged in such difficult prayer for them? “That they may be perfect and complete in the will of God for them.” He wanted them to gain maturity and a fullness in God that would keep them safe from forces of evil that came against them. He wanted them to have a knowledge of the will of the living God. He wanted them to walk in victory; not only know things as truth in their minds, but walking them out daily. He wanted them to be victorious!
V.13- Paul saw the hard work Epaphras put into his prayers for the people of Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. These were three close communities in whom Epaphras had taken an active part. It’s part of what is called the Lycus Valley.
Paul could bear witness of the struggles Epaphras faced on his knees because he was there and saw and heard them. He knew the intensity of Epaphras’ prayer for those people. It would be hard for Paul not to hear him pray, since they were prisoners together (Philemon 2). Epaphras’ prayers were mostly for the spiritual well-being of those mentioned. He wanted them to be strong when other sects came against their beliefs and tried to draw them away: The gnostics being the primary group in this book.
V.14- Luke, the author of Luke and Acts, was a good friend to Paul, and his personal physician. He stayed faithful to Paul in all his imprisonments. (At some point Demas deserted Paul. Read II Timothy 4:9-11. Demas loved the world so left Paul to go back to Thessalonica.) Jerome and Tertullian, among others, called Luke an evangelist and the physician of Antioch because that’s where he was from. Luke was converted under Paul’s teachings, and became a minister of the gospel.
V.15- Paul wanted to make sure he greeted the saints of Laodicea, especially to the man, Nymphas who had a church in his home, and the brethren who worshipped there. This makes me think of something most Christians don’t think about. It doesn’t matter where our brethren live, they are our responsibility. No matter if it’s someone in China or someone in Danielson. We need to be courteous to them, and be willing to provide for their needs as possible. There’s no such thing as, “You don’t go to my church building, so I can’t spend my money helping you.” It should be that as God provides, we help everyone who claims the blood of the Savior.
V.16- Paul evidently wrote at least three letters at the same time, and sent each one to a different church: Colossians: Philemon, and Ephesus. However, he wanted the Christians in the churches at Colosse and Laodicea to know what he said to the other. He wanted them all to be as blessed as he could manage to make them in a written letter. So, either by sending a copy of the letter to each church, or by sharing the original letters, each church body was given the reading. These letters were not sent to any particular person, but to the congregations of these churches who, apparently, were suffering the same attacks from false teachers.
V.17- Archippus was a common name among the Greeks. ( He might have been Philemon’s son.) This Archippus was mentioned in Philemon 2. He was the minister in Colosse while Epaphras was in prison in Rome. He was called to the work, and gifted to do it, but he let himself be distracted. Because he had become negligent in his work, Paul had to reprimand him. If a minister is not performing all the functions of the church, it is the duty of other ministers to point it out and to admonish them to do better. As Archippus was not fulfilling his work as minister, the church could not become complete in Christ. They would remain in the milk of the Word, not achieving maturity. So Paul wanted to make sure to point out his failings.
V.18- Paul had a writer who penned the letters for him as he dictated them. This person was called his amanuensis. Mr. Webster defines this as "a person employed to write what another dictates, or copy what has been written by another: secretary." But to authenticate these as his letters, he wrote the salutation with his own hand (Also see I Corinthians 16:21). It kept others from counterfeiting his name to letters they wrote for their own benefit.
He wanted the Christians to remember his bonds, not for his sake, but to encourage them to endure whatever they had to for the sake of the Gospel. He also wanted them to continue praying for him and against his bondage. It must have been so hard for him to be kept in that one place for so long. How frustrating for him not to be able to roam about the mission field at will. But he was their prime example of suffering for the advancement of the Word of God. After all, we have to remember that Paul was a man and subject to discouragement. By the prayers of the saints, he felt comforted and able to bear his bonds in the proper attitude and keep his faith in God Strong. We need to be doing that for each other.
"Grace be with you." What a wonderful show of love and affection from Paul to the churches. He wished for them the freely given, unmerited, favor and love of God. He wanted them to be in God’s favor for their lives. Paul’s heart was full of the grace of God and he wanted everyone to feel the joy of it.
Paul was a prisoner in bonds and yet his concern was for the spiritual well-being of the churches. His bonds were only a demonstration of his willingness to suffer for the gospel.
Let’s read Romans 16:17-20, "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness." Paul wanted the Christians to be wise. He wanted them to be aware of the false doctrines seeping into their congregations. He was warning them not to be deceived by flattering speech, or, as Colossians 2:4 says it, “persuasive words.” What was the Scripture we looked at last time that goes along with this? Matthew 10:16, "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents, and gentle as doves." Let’s know our enemies, and give them a name. Let’s not be taken in by the smooth words of anyone coming to deceive even the elect, if possible (Matthew 24:23,24).
If the people of the churches lived an upright life, honoring and glorifying the Father, he would crush satan under their feet. He will also do that for us. If we uphold out lifestyles according to the Word of God, we will live a victorious life of authority over our enemies.