Commentary on Colossians, 4:16-18 (Faithful to the Biblical Pattern)

Colossians 4:16-18


“16 And when this epistle has been read among you, also have it read in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you also read the epistle from Laodicea.”


As I pointed out earlier, the city of Laodicea was near the city of Colossae, and so there must have been close ties between the two churches. Although Paul didn’t mention it here, the church in Hierapolis would be included in this fellowship (Col 4:13). Thus he instructs the two churches to exchange letters. Quite obviously, all the books of the New Testament would have been circulated among all the churches in that day. But here Paul points out one letter in particular.


The big question is, what was the letter from Laodicea that Paul was referring to? No one knows for sure. Most believe it was one of two letters: A letter that Paul wrote to the the church in Laodicea, that has been lost, or the letter to the Ephesians (book of Ephesians), also written by Paul.


“17 And say to Archippus, Keep a watchful eye on the ministry that you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill.”


“Archippus”


It seems likely that this is the same Archippus mentioned by Paul in Philemon 1:2. He was apparently of the household of Philemon, and may have been his son, as many believe.


“Keep a watchful eye on”  (Gr. blepo – 991)


Speaks of being on the watch, to give careful attention to. It warns of dangers. Paul probably had false teaching in mind (read all of Col, ch 2), and was instructing Archippus to be watchful and discerning.


“that you may fulfill it”


I don’t believe that Paul was instructing Archippus to merely finish his ministry, but to fulfill it responsibly. He was to give careful attention to the work that God had entrusted him with, to take it seriously. Again, the evidence of this book suggests that Paul had false teaching in mind, and that he was advising Archippus to beware for the purpose of ensuring that the truth is being taught. It’s not known what exactly his ministry was, but it does appear that he had a ministry of teaching God’s Word.


This is an instruction that every pastor needs to consider carefully. This is an area where I believe the church is in serious trouble. There seems to be such a lack of discernment among church leaders regarding doctrine, and about how the Christian life is to be lived. By and large, I don’t see pastors giving the attention to these things that they deserve.  


I could go on and on in detail about this, but generally speaking, I see a lot of compromise with the world today. I don’t see an emphasis on holiness and separation from the world. Instead, I see “friendship with the world” (Ja 4:4), and an emphasis on “felt-needs, what God can do for me” type of teaching. Pastors play it “safe” and stick to feel-good, non-offensive subjects.


Where are the warnings? Where’s the love for truth? Where’s the love for God’s Word? Where’s the passion to teach it verse by verse, realizing that every word of the Bible is God-breathed? Where’s the emphasis on prayer? Where’s the hatred for the things of this world? Where’s the desire for separation from the things that are an abomination to God? Why does there seem to be such a concern about what man thinks, and such a lack of serious concern about what God thinks?


I thank the Lord for pastors who are so excited about God’s Word, and so concerned about the spiritual well-being of their people, that they give full attention to the details of God’s Word, devoting much time to studying it, and devoting much time in sermon preparation. I thank the Lord for pastors who have a sincere desire to do the will of God, and are not concerned about what other pastors are commonly doing in other churches. I thank the Lord for pastors who are devoted to protecting their people from false teaching and worldly living. I thank the Lord for pastors who are preparing God’s people for eternity. I thank the Lord for pastors who have a heart for the same things that God has a heart for.


There is such a need for men of God who will stand against the common flow of churches today, and are sincerely devoted to following the biblical pattern, and not concerned about numbers….but only that they are being faithful to what God has called them to do, no matter what the cost.


Whatever ministry God has called us to, we need to make sure that we’re carrying it out faithfully, with a sincere desire to honor God in all things, as the Apostle Paul was.


“18 This salutation by me, Paul, with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.”


“with my own hand”


The pen is in Paul’s own hand. Leaves no doubt who authored this book, and who actually penned it. Both by Paul.


“remember my chains”


Most certainly Paul was asking that they keep him in their prayers during his imprisonment. But also, I think he probably wanted them to remember why he was in prison, that it was for the cause of Christ. He was an example to every other servant of of the Lord. Paul endured much for the name of Christ, and we should be prepared to do no less. If Paul was willing to go to prison for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, and for faithfully teaching the Word of God, can we as servants of the Lord today, at least be willing to do the same thing in places where we are free to do so, without threat of imprisonment?


“grace be with you”


We need grace walk in obedience to God. We need grace to teach the Word of God without compromise. We need grace to learn the truth. We need grace not to get sucked into the current trends in church ministry in order to be true to the biblical pattern. We need grace to fulfill the ministry God has called us to do. We need grace to take a stand for Christ as His faithful witnesses. We need grace to endure hardship for His name. We need grace to do all things for God’s glory.


God’s grace is available to “stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God” (Col 4:12).