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10. Making a Difference (Colossians 4:2-18)

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Day One Study

Read Colossians 4:2-18.

  1. Anything in particular interesting to you in this passage?              
  1. Let’s focus on vv. 2-6.
  • Define devote (v. 2, NIV). —
  • Remembering the rest of the letter you have already studied, why do you think Paul tells the Colossians to be devoted to prayer, keeping watchful or alert (v. 2)?

Focus on the Meaning: In prayer, we call on God to work, and we express our faith in Him…The Christian who does not pray is demonstrating independence from God (cf. John 15:5) …The accompanying exhortation to ‘keep awake, be on the alert’ (gregoreo) is drawn from the imagery of guard duty (Nehemiah 7:3; Mark 14:34, 37). (Constables Notes on Colossians, p. 68)

  1. Read verse 2 again.
  • How do you think an attitude of thankfulness can make a difference in your prayer life?
  • Relate this to what you learned in Colossians 3:15-17.

Scriptural Insight: The repeated emphasis on thanksgiving makes this epistle one of the most “thankful” books in the New Testament (cf. 1:3, 12; 2:7; 3:15-17; 4:2). (Constables Notes on Colossians, p. 68)

  1. Staying Healthy: Is there something that you are especially praying for today? How can you have an attitude of thanksgiving? List at least three things for which you can be thankful in your circumstance/situation.
  2. For what two things does Paul ask in Colossians 4:3-4?
  3. Why is it so important for Paul, and us, to be able to proclaim the gospel clearly? See also Ephesians 6:19-20.
  4. Staying Healthy: Are you praying daily for an open door in which to share the gospel with someone? If someone asked you what the “gospel” or the “Good News” is, would you be able to tell her?

Read the simple Gospel message below that you could use to share with someone about Christ.

Has anyone ever explained to you how you can know you’re going to heaven? May I?

1. The Bible teaches that God loves all people and wants them to know Him.

2. But people have sinned against God and are separated from God and His love. Draw a chasm. This separation leads only to death and judgment.

3. But there is a solution. Draw bridge. Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins (the bridge between humanity and God).

4. Only those who personally receive Jesus Christ into their lives, trusting Him to forgive their sins, can cross this bridge. Everyone must decide individually whether to receive Christ.

Is anything keeping you from trusting Christ right now? Would you like to pray now and tell God you will trust His Son as your Savior?

(from the “Bridge to Life” method of sharing the gospel)

Now, write how you would say it to someone.

  1. How can we be wise in the way we act toward unbelievers (outsiders)” as Paul states in verse 5? Draw from the following verses to get your answer.
  • Colossians 3:5-17—
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12; 5:12-15 —
  • 1 Peter 2:13-17 —


  1. What do you think Paul means when he says we should make the most of every opportunity in verse 5? Give examples.

From the Greek: The Greek word translated “opportunity” (kairos, lit. time) probably implies the opportune time (i.e., the best, most effectual, and most productive occasion), as it does in some other places. (Constable’s Notes on Colossians, p. 69)

  1. Making the most of every opportunity includes daily conversation with non-Christians (v. 6). What advice does Paul give for our conversation?
  2. What does it mean to have your conversation be full of grace, in a sense “seasoned with salt (verse 6)?” Examine what is said in Colossians 3:12-17 and Ephesians 4:29 to derive your answer for the right kind of “salty” language.

Focus on the Meaning: Speech most effectively expresses what is inside the believer. The Christian’s speech should mirror the gracious character and conduct of his or her God by demonstrating love, patience, sacrifice, undeserved favor, etc. Salt probably represented both attractiveness, since salt makes food appealing, & wholesomeness, since salt was a preservative that retarded corruption in food…one should wisely suit his or her speech to each need. (Constables Notes on Colossians, p. 70)

  1. “Know how to answer everyone” doesn’t mean you must know ALL the answers because no one does except God. So, what could it mean in light of this context (vv. 2-6)?
  2. Staying Healthy: Does your speech mirror the gracious character and conduct of your Lord? Ask Jesus to reveal to you any speech that doesn’t mirror Him and trust Him to help you replace it with grace-filled speech. Just say, “Lord Jesus, I can’t do this on my own. But, you can do this in me. I will trust you.” Then, watch what He does!

Day Two Study

Read Colossians 4:2-18.

  1. View these names as representing real people with real functions in their world. Beside each name, give Paul’s comments about the person and their function in the church / ministry. Follow the cross-references given to see what else is mentioned about them. Add information from online Bible study websites such as Use all this information to “draw” yourself a word picture about who they were. You will be seeing them in heaven. They may know your name and story so you should know theirs!
  • Tychicus (v. 7; Ephesians 6:21-22) —
  • Onesimus (v. 8; Philemon 10-11, 15-16) —
  • Aristarchus (v. 10; Acts 19:29; 20:4; 27:2; Philemon 23) —
  • (John) Mark (v. 10-11; Acts 12:25; 13:4-5, 13; 15:37-41; Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:11; 1 Peter 5:13) —

Scriptural Insight: John Mark, [who wrote the gospel of Mark], is an encouragement to everyone who has failed in his first attempts to serve God. He did not sit around and sulk. He got back into the ministry and proved himself faithful to the Lord and to the Apostle Paul. (Constables Notes on Colossians, p. 72)

  • Jesus Justus (v. 11) —
  • Epaphras (vv. 12-13; Colossians 1:7; Philemon 23) —

Scriptural Insight: Epaphras holds the unique distinction among all the friends and co-workers of Paul of being the only one whom Paul explicitly commended for his intensive prayer ministry. The passage quoted above [4:12-13] may well be called his diploma of success in this ministry. Epaphras’ “concern” for the Christians in the other towns near Colosse, “Laodicea and Hierapolis,” suggests the possibility that he evangelized these communities as well. (Constables Notes on Colossians, p. 72)

  • Luke (v. 14; Acts 16:10 where he joins Paul; Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:11; wrote the gospel of Luke and book of Acts) —
  • Demas (v. 14; 2 Timothy 4:10) —
  • Nympha (v. 15) —
  • Archippus (v. 17; Philemon 2) —
  1. In this passage, we see one of the ways women were very important to the establishment of the early church (assuming Nympha is a woman as some translations say). See also Romans 16:3-5 and 1 Corinthians 16:19. What do you think Nympha’s (and Priscilla’s) ministry involved for her?
  2. Staying Healthy: Your home is one of your most valuable assets for ministry. Is your home used in any way for the Lord? If not, why not? What is holding you back?
  3. How did Paul conclude this beautiful letter?

Scriptural Insight: Paul normally used a secretary to write his letters, and then added a personal word at the end—in his own handwriting—to authenticate his authorship (cf. Rom. 16:22; Gal. 6:11). (Constables Notes on Colossians, p. 74)

What happened to the Colossian church?

An earthquake destroyed Colosse shortly after this letter was written. Tacitus recorded that Laodicea was also destroyed in the quake, but was apparently later rebuilt. Colosse lost its importance. Laodicea became the greater city.

In Revelation, Jesus wrote a letter to Laodicea, but Colosse was not mentioned because by the mid 90s, Colosse in large part no longer existed. A few people were said to have formed a small village from the ruins of Colosse. The village was totally abandoned in the 8th century.

In the 12th century, the Turks destroyed whatever was left of Colosse. Today, Colosse is uninhabited ruins. Motorist guides to Turkey point out Laodicea’s ruins but do not even mention Colosse.

Christianity survived in the Lycus Valley until 1923 when the Treaty of Lausanne, ending the Greco-Turkish war, sent Turkish Christians to Greece and Greek Muslims to Turkey.

Day Three Study: TRUTH—the Prescription for Healthy Living

Dwell in Truth You Can Know

  1. Review the Colossians passage we studied in this lesson. List the truths about God and His relationship to us that we can KNOW.

Humbly Accept the “I Don’t Know or Understand”

  1. From the Colossians passage we studied in this lesson, make note of anything that you do not understand at this time.

Discern Teaching through the Complete Revelation of God’s Word

  1. Evaluate something you have read or heard in light of the TRUTH you are learning—books, social media, billboards—things that sound nice and comfy but may actually lead to or be based upon error in biblical thinking. Does anything come to mind that fits with today’s lesson? Discern truth from error using the following process.
  • Step #1: Define the terms and issues involved.
  • Step #2: Ask questions and support your answers with Scripture, looking for truth you can know and what you can’t know.
  • Step #3: Think of a graceful response to someone holding to that type of thinking.

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