We’re almost finished with our study of Colossians. This next section brings the main body to a close, while also providing the believers in Colossae with final instructions on living out their Christian faith among their non-Christian neighbors.
4.2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone (TNIV).
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful: And pray for us, too… Just as the letter opening spoke of Paul and Timothy’s constant prayer for the Colossians (1.3-14), the letter closes with instructions for the Colossians to pray with this same persistence (4.2), and on behalf of Paul and Timothy as well (4.3). The need to be watchful most likely refers to the understanding that Christ could return at any given moment. Believers must orient their lives accordingly (Moo, Colossians, 320). The call for alertness, however, is to be balanced by a spirit of thanksgiving. In other words, believers need not be anxious or fearful of Christ’s return; they should welcome it (see Dunn, Colossians, 262).
…that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may reveal it, as it is necessary for me to do (my translation).
Paul asks that the believers pray that God will “open a door” for the mystery of Christ. On 1.26-27, we noted that a mystery refers to something that was formerly kept secret or hidden but that has now revealed by God. The mystery is all that we have read about Christ and his ministry of reconciliation—this is what God has revealed. Paul saw his mission to the Gentiles as his life’s calling (“as it is necessary”; cf. 1 Cor 9.16; Acts 9.16; Ro 1.5). He therefore asks the believers to pray that, despite his imprisonment, the message of Christ will continue to be revealed, that it will spread throughout the entire world (cf. 1.6, 20; 2.2).
Dunn notes that these verses express the “indispensability of prayer” for the first-century Christians (263). Prayer is the essential component for spreading the gospel. We therefore must exhibit a proper dependence on God if we wish to see his message of reconciliation revealed, if we want to see lives changed around us.
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Much of Paul’s letter has been devoted to warning the believers from being duped into the erroneous philosophies and ways of the “false teachers.” The temptation, therefore, might be to withdraw from society in order to avoid any association with those outside the faith community. But Paul instructs the Colossian believers to remain engaged with culture. They are to live wisely, which means living according to God’s wisdom and values (see comments on 1.9-10; 2.6-7), and make the most of every opportunity since Christ’s return is “always impending” (Moo, 329). Their words must be full of grace, charming, witty, but never dull (“seasoned with salt”). And they must always be ready to articulate the Christian faith.
All this is to say that our Christian conduct and conversation should both charm and provide a testimony of the faith at the same time. When the Christian life is lived out, whether in word or deed, it should be appealing to those outside the faith. This is how we articulate our faith.
(1) Prayer is vital
(2) Our lives should be attractive to those outside the faith community.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ, we ask that your message of reconciliation would continue to be revealed. The world needs you. Help us to be your ambassadors. May we put on the new man and shed the old so that we may communicate the Gospel effectively. May we demonstrate a way of living that attracts, that invites those around us to turn to you. Amen.