Colossians 4

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt

Brigham Young

It is a shame to a man, who is made after the image of God, not to have control over his tongue, in the moments of passion or rage; let him first overcome and govern his passion, and then trust himself to speak, whether he be in the presence of his family or alone. "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." When we speak, let us speak good words; when we think, think good thoughts; and when we act, perform good acts; until it shall become the delight of every man and woman to do good instead of evil, and to teach righteousness by example, and precept rather than unrighteousness. The men and women who pursue this course are entitled to all the blessings of heaven, both temporal and spiritual, and such blessings will be bestowed upon them as fast as they are prepared to properly apply, use, and enjoy them. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 10: 360 - 361.)

Colossians 4:7 Tychicus... is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister

"Tychicus had shown his reliability in accompanying Paul to Jerusalem with the welfare collection, and he had... carried the letters to Ephesus and Colossae. Much like Titus in experience, Tychicus was the kind of man whom Paul would consider as the new regional supervisor in Crete...

"Paul... sent Tychicus to Ephesus, and others named after Demas were probably away from Rome on assignment. No less than nine men seem to be fellow-laborers sent by Paul to different areas as his life closed. Tychicus must be typical; he was from Asia and was sent there to replace Timothy, who was now coming to Rome to be with Paul. Both 'beloved' and 'faithful' (Col. 4:7), Tychicus is obviously another regional representative, directing bishops in a major area. Forces of rebellion probably consumed the main attention of these leaders, for the Pastoral Letters mainly guide regional leaders to direct members and to keep them from deception. To accomplish this, area supervisors had to appoint leaders and train them, the real meaning of Paul's reminder to teach 'faithful men' (the bishops) so they could 'teach others' (their flocks). (2 Tim. 2:2)" (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 344-345, 372.)

Colossians 4:9 Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother

"The epistle to Philemon is a special letter of intercession on behalf of the runaway slave Onesimus, who had earlier fled his master Philemon, and possibly taken with him some of the latter's money or property. Ordinarily, under contemporary law, a runaway slave could be subject to frightful penalties. However, while in Rome Onesimus was converted to the gospel by Paul and had proved himself 'profitable' (Philem. 1:10-11); therefore, when Tychicus went to Colosse (bearing the epistle to the Colossians), Paul sent Onesimus along, with an appeal to Philemon to receive him in the spirit of forgiveness as 'a faithful and beloved brother.' (See Col. 4:7-9.)

"Aside from the fact that it is a remarkable example of a tactful appeal, [the epistle to Philemon] shows that the gospel of Jesus Christ is an equalizing force in the lives of men regardless of differences in social status. Because Onesimus had come repentant into the gospel brotherhood, Philemon was asked to receive him, not as a servant, but as "a brother beloved, ... both in the flesh, and in the Lord." (Philem. 1:15, 16.)

"Because Paul has, in effect, delivered a slave back into servitude, some have interpreted this epistle as an endorsement of slavery as a practice. On the other hand, others have understood the request to receive Onesimus 'not ... as a servant' (Philem. 1:16) to be a disavowal of slavery. But Paul seems to have intended neither of these. He simply acknowledges slavery indirectly as a social reality, at the same time reminding Philemon of the obligations of brotherhood in the kingdom. (Lane Johnson, "New Testament Backgrounds: Philemon," Ensign, Apr. 1976, 58)

Colossians 4:11 Jesus, which is called Justus

The name Jesus is the Greek rendition of the Hebrew name Joshua, which means "God is help" or "God saves." Because Joshua of Moses' day was such a great Jewish leader, his name would have been very common at the time, especially among the Jews, whom Paul refers to as being "of the circumcision." Perhaps the Jesus mentioned in this verse was referred to as Justus because the saints were beginning to think of the name of Jesus as a holy name instead of a common one.

There is symbolism in the Lord of the Universe taking upon himself a common name. The plan was for the Master to be born into the most humble of circumstances, to be raised in a common city, to live a life with no wealth or material distinction, and to be given a common name. This is part of the great condescension of God. When we think of all the scriptural names for the Son of God, we understand that the name Jesus is perhaps the most humble of them all. Consider when the Lord comes again. Will he be called Jesus? John says that he will be called "Faithful and True...and his name is called The Word of God...And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." (Rev. 19:11-16)

Jesus, once of humble birth,
Now in glory comes to earth...
Once a meek and lowly Lamb,
Now the Lord, the great I AM...
Once rejected by his own,
Now their King he shall be known.

Now their King he shall be known.

(Parley P. Pratt, "Jesus, Once of Humble Birth," Hymn 196)

Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you... saluteth you

"Philemon's letter closes with a greeting from 'Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus' (Philem. 1:23). This is probably a way of honoring this man who was well known at Colossae; he was assisting Paul in prison, just as the returning Onesimus had done. Colossians also names Epaphras, 'who is one of you, a servant of Christ' (Col. 4:12). The Colossians had 'learned' the gospel from 'Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ' (Col. 1:7). Since he had 'declared unto us your love in the Spirit' (Col. 1:8), Paul's knowledge of the current problems of that area came through this missionary with their interest at heart. And Paul apparently wanted them to know that negative information was relayed for their benefit, since Epaphras has a 'great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis' ("Col. 4:13Col. 4:13)." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 245 - 246.)

Colossians 4:13 them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis

"Hierapolis and these two cities (Laodicea and Colossae) formed a triangle with sides about ten miles long. In writing to Colossae, Paul also named 'them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis' (Col. 4:13). Substantial ruins of the latter city are spread out around its well-preserved stone theater. It was built adjacent to massive hot springs that attracted religious and recreational pilgrims. But Laodicea was the major city of the area in Paul's day. Just before Paul, Strabo wrote that Laodicea 'grew large in our time and in that of our fathers.' That geographer paid tribute to its 'fertile territory' and the private wealth of some of its citizens. Its ruins, including its theater, are badly deteriorated, but Laodicea's stone-strewn area is massive. Although Hierapolis is merely mentioned in Paul's Colossian letter, Laodicea is prominent, probably reflecting the size of the Church in that large city. Laodicea was possibly the regional center of Church administration. Three decades later John sent his letter to Laodicea as the most important branch of the Church in that area." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 245.)

Colossians 4:14 Luke, the beloved physician

"The epithet 'beloved' is uncommon in Paul's writings, and indicates an especially close bond between the apostle and his doctor... [Later] Paul recounts how many of his associates either had forsaken him or had gone on errands, and concludes with: 'Only Luke is with me.' (2 Tim. 4:11.) Alone and facing death, Paul doubtless found Luke's presence of more than medical comfort." (C. Wilfred Griggs, "Paul: The Long Road from Damascus," Ensign, Sept. 1975, 60)

"Who was Luke, that he should be called to write so much of the life of Jesus and of the acts of the apostles? What do we know of the man whom Paul called 'the beloved physician' (Col. 4:14) in his letter to the saints at Colossae?

"Though Luke tells us nothing of himself in his letters, still his writings reveal much about his values, priorities, personal testimony, and his tender charity toward mankind. Any sincere student of the scriptures must be moved by the humane selectivity of Luke's characterizations, descriptions, and phrasing.

"Luke was thought to have been born in Antioch of Syria, the 'City of Greek Kings.' With its 200,000 people it was one of the greatest cities of the Roman Empire and more than 33 times its present size. During Luke's lifetime, Jews in Antioch had the same status and privileges as Greeks. It was here that the first gentile branch of the church in that dispensation was formed; here, disciples were first called Christians. (See Acts 11:20-21, 26.)

"It appears that Paul started three missions from Antioch. Perhaps it was in his home city that Luke became involved with Paul, the 'apostle of the Gentiles.' (Rom. 11:13.) Or, Luke may have become acquainted with Paul at Troas.

"Luke did not identify which areas or to what extent he traveled with Paul on his missions. The fact that he first recorded many of the highlights of Paul's life and travels in the third person ('he' and 'they') and then abruptly changes to the first person plural ('we' and 'us') indicates that they served together from Troas to Philippi, and perhaps also in Achaia and Alexandria. (See Acts 16:10-17; Acts 20:5 through Acts 21:18; Acts 27:1 through Acts 28:16.) Later they traveled together to Miletus, Tyre, Caesarea, and Jerusalem.

"After Paul's arrest, Luke joined him in Caesarea, where Paul boldly declared his testimony before Festus and King Agrippa. When Paul went to Rome, Luke went with him.

"Certainly this close association with Paul would have qualified Luke to write the book of Acts. Another important qualification was his matchless access to key facts about the life of Jesus Christ. Over 100 quotations or facts from 32 events of major consequence in the life of the Savior are recorded only in Luke. Similarly, most of the events and testimonies in Acts are uniquely recorded by Luke. He alone recorded 18 of the descriptive titles for Jesus; there are 258 such titles or characterizations of Jesus in the entire Bible.

"Luke sought out the 'eyewitnesses' to the Lord's life and ministry, even those 'which from the beginning were eyewitnesses.' (See Luke 1:2.) Some scholars think that, during the years Paul was in prison in Caesarea, Luke contacted persons who remembered the event of Christ's life. Perhaps Luke contacted the eyewitnesses earlier than this. Certainly, his narrative contains details dealing with 'the beginning' (annunciation to Elisabeth and Mary, the birth and blessing, etc.) that suggest he did seek to obtain all that was known from as many witnesses as possible." (Robert T. Stout, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Sept. 1975, 38)

Colossians 4:16 the church of the Laodiceans

There was a triad of early Christian churches in Asia Minor including Colosse, Laodicea, and Hieropolis. Probably, these three branches were young and small at the time of Paul's epistle-circa 61 AD. However, the church must have continued to grow in the region, especially in Laodicea because approximately 35 years later, John refers to it as one of the seven churches (Rev. 3:14). They were given the infamous warning:

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Rev. 3:15-21)

Colossians 4:15 the church which is in his house

The early church was not wealthy. They did not establish large, spacious meetinghouses. Most of the time, smaller congregations met in members' homes, such as this branch which met in the home of Nymphas.

Colossians 4:16 the epistle from Laodicea

The epistle that Paul wrote to the Laodiceans has been lost. However, sometime in the first or second century AD, a scriptural imposter created a document which is 20 verses long and pretends to be Paul's original work.

"The imitation letter of the Laodiceans corrects nothing and has no distinct message. Scholars consistently reject it because it is a 'worthless patching together of Pauline passages and phrases, mainly from the Epistle to the Philippians.' But what if the real Laodiceans or the real 1 Corinthians someday came to light? Then creeds and Christians would be wrong in seeing the Bible as the whole revelation of God. And if the historical collection of apostles' letters is not complete, are there new revelations that God wishes to give today? Modern revelation testifies both to the truth of past revelation and also to its unfinished nature." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 247.)

B. H. Roberts

Here, then, is another epistle of Paul's, the Epistle to the Laodiceans, which he himself refers to, but of which the world knows nothing, except this reference to it-it is not in the Bible.

In the first letter to the Corinthians you find this statement: "I wrote unto you in an epistle, not to keep company with fornicators." (1 Cor. 5:9). That book, then, which the world has so long regarded as the first epistle to the Corinthians, is not really the first epistle which Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, for in the quotation given above, taken from the so-called First Epistle to the Corinthians, the writer speaks of an epistle which he previously had written to them, in which he counseled them "not to keep company with fornicators." Doubtless many other instructions and important principles were contained in this other Epistle to the Corinthians.

How many other books and epistles, written by inspired men of those days, were suppressed by "the great and abominable church"-apostate Christendom-we may not know, but these here incidentally mentioned have certainly been suppressed. (New Witnesses for God, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1909], 3: 267-268.)