New Defender's Study Bible Notes
4:1 Master. “The word “Master” in this verse—referring both to human masters and our heavenly Master—is actually the Greek word kurios, normally rendered “Lord.” It is not the usual word for “master,” which is didaskalos, meaning “teacher.” This exhortation here suggests great responsibility, with eternal implications, on the part of both masters and servants—or, in modern terminology, of employers and employees.
4:3 open unto us a door. Note that it is not human strategies but God, in response to prayer, who opens doors of witness for His people. Note also I Corinthians 16:9; Revelation 3:8.
4:5 redeeming the time. See note on Ephesians 5:16.
4:6 speech. “Speech” here is the Greek logos, often translated “word.” In addition to being “gracious” and tasteful (i.e., “seasoned with salt”), the speech of the Christian should be “sound” (Titus 2:8), “edifying” (Ephesians 4:29), meaningful (Matthew 12:36), “quiet” (I Thessalonians 4:11), trustworthy (Colossians 3:9) and clean (Colossians 3:8).
4:6 with grace. If we have “grace in [our] hearts” (Colossians 3:16), we can exhibit grace in our speech.
4:6 answer. The word “answer” is the Greek apokrinomai. In its 250 occurrences in the New Testament, this is the only place where it is not used as a simple narrative statement (e.g., “he answered and said”). In other words, we can (and should) know just how to reply to every statement or question in any conversation, and to do so graciously and tastefully. It is different from the word “answer” in I Peter 3:15 (“be ready always to give an answer…”); there the word is apologia, meaning “systematic defense.” When the Christian faith is attacked, we need to be able to give an “apologetic” in defense thereof. In ordinary conversation, on the other hand, we need to have a gracious and helpful reply to whatever is being said or asked.
4:7 Tychicus. See note on Colossians 1:2.
4:9 Onesimus. See Philemon 10. Evidently Onesimus, a run-away slave belonging to a Christian master named Philemon living in Colosse, had been led to Christ by Paul in Rome. This suggests that Tychicus and Onesimus carried letters from Paul to the churches at Ephesus and Colosse and also a personal letter to Philemon in Colosse.
4:10 Aristarchus. See Acts 19:29; 20:4; 27:2; Philemon 24. In Colossians 4:7-17, Paul mentions more people by name than in any other epistle except in Romans 16:1-23. If any should wonder why these personal references should be included in a divinely inspired document intended by the Holy Spirit to be used in all churches of all the centuries, the intent may be to assure us that God is interested in individual believers as well as in the church as a whole. All believers have their individual names written in the Lamb’s “book of life” in heaven (Revelation 20:15). As a token and surety of this, some of these names have also been written in His book on earth.
4:10 Marcus. See also Acts 15:37; II Timothy 4:11. Evidently Mark, who had once left Paul, had also come to see him at Rome, and had at least begun to reconfirm his commitment to Christ in Paul’s judgment.
4:12 Epaphras. There is no actual record in Scripture that Paul ever actually visited Colosse, or that he established the church there. Nevertheless, he seemed to know personally many of the Colossian believers, especially Philemon (note especially Philemon 19,22). Perhaps Epaphras, who had served as one of their pastors and teachers, kept in close touch with Paul, and possibly had even been in prison with Paul and Aristarchus (Colossians 4:10) at the time Paul was writing this epistle. Epaphras also had evidently ministered in the nearby churches at Laodicea and Hierapolis (Colossians 4:13).
4:12 always labouring fervently. Ephaphras was a true “prayer warrior,” always interceding for the Christians at Colosse. The word translated “labouring fervently” is agonizomai. The same word is translated “strive” in Luke 13:24 and “fight” in I Timothy 6:12. In English it is transliterated as “agonize.”
4:14 physician. It is from this verse that we know that Luke, Paul’s companion on his voyage to Rome (see Acts 21:2) was a physician.
4:14 Demas. Demas was still Paul’s fellow worker at this time, though later he went back into the world (Philemon 24; II Timothy 4:10).
4:16 epistle from Laodicea. It seems unlikely that the Holy Spirit would inspire this command to read the Laodicean epistle, and then allow it to be lost. It is more likely that the Ephesian letter (which contains no personal names) was intended for all the churches of the region. Tychicus would have left it at Ephesus, whence it was to be circulated to Laodicea and eventually to Colosse.