Crowning Him King
Introduction – In this Session, we will conclude our study of Colossians and explore Colossians Chapter 3:22-25 and Colossians Chapter 4:1-6. In these verses Paul continues his exhortation to the Colossian Church regarding their interpersonal relationships, and in Chapter 4, Paul stresses the importance of prayer as the vehicle by which we influence the reality that we live in through our relationship with God, by appealing to His goodness, power and authority.
It is important that we understand Colossians 3:22-25, and 4:1 in the context of the Roman socioeconomic structure that existed in the First Century. Paul brings an exhortation to those Christians who are under the bondage of slavery, and how they should conduct their lives in the context of an evil societal structure. In no way is Paul endorsing the injustice bond-servanthood, and human labor trafficking. Sadly, there have been some Christian teachers in Church history that have used texts like these to defend the evil institution of African slavery in Britain and the United States. I will expound more as we get into the text. However, it is also very important that it to mention that just as Christians defended evil through twisting of the Scriptures and ignorance of the Roman economic history; it was Christians began the anti-slavery abolitionist movements and succeeded in their mission to end it in the Western world. True social justice movements belong to believers in Christ, because we know the One who Just and True, the Lord Jesus Christ.
We see the following movements in the text:
1 – Paul’s exhortations to those Christians who were under the yoke of Roman slavery.
2 – Paul’s exhortations to Roman Christian slave owners.
3 – The power of prayer for advancing Christ in the world around us.
4 – The power of our actions and words as we relate to people who do not know Christ.
a) The first thing we need to establish is that Paul in no way is condoning slavery of any kind. For us to properly understand these verses, we must first understand the ancient Roman economy and Empire. The Roman economy was built on the backs of slavery and 40% of the Roman Empire were slaves. Roman slavery was not racial in nature but was fueled by the conquest of the Roman Empire. Roman slavery was very different from the Institutional slavery of America or Britain. Roman slavery looked more like indentured servitude. There were very educated slaves who served in education, there were slaves that served in banking, there were slaves that served in very area of economy and service to society. Roman slaves could own land, accumulate wealth, and often would arrange payment for their freedom or services rendered by their owners. Male slaves did have some limited civil rights and protections under Roman Law. Slaves that obtained
freedom were a class within Roman society called “libertini”. Though this is still an evil oppressive economic foundation, is vastly different from the very evil Western slavery of the U.S., Europe and Britain. See Revelation 18:11-13 aptly describes Scripture’s condemnation of this institution and prophesies its end.
b) The next thing we should look at, is what other things did Paul say about Roman slavery. 1 – 1 Timothy 6:1, Paul calls slavery a yoke. 2 – Ephesians 6:9 and Colossians 4:1, Paul warns masters that they are accountable to God for their participation in Roman slavery. 3 – Philemon verse 15, Paul appeals to Philemon to free Onesimus (a Colossian slave – see Colossians 4:9) and relate to him as a fellow man and brother in Christ. 4 – 1 Corinthians 7:21, Paul encourages believers to buy their freedom, so they can prosper the faith.
c) Paul describes our relationship to Christ as slaves/bondservants who have been bought by the price of His blood and uses the Roman slave to master relationship as a metaphor to describe the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives. See Romans 6:6. Paul also uses the Roman slave metaphor to describe our bondage to sin and our freedom in Christ, being set free from sin, but slaves to His righteousness. See Romans 6:16.
d) We can appropriate these Scriptures and frame them in the context of our modern world and apply them to our interpersonal relationships with our employers. In verse 22, we should ask ourselves the following questions; 1 – Are we obedient employees who benefit our employers? 2 – Are we seeking favor from our employer by maintaining integrity in all things, or only when they are present in the workplace? 3 – Are we sincerely benevolent employees because our work is a testimony that speaks of the Nature and Character of the God we serve?
a) Our identities in Christ always transcend our reality. Paul called himself a prisoner of the Lord, not a prisoner of Rome, though he was writing Colossians while being chained and incarcerated by Rome. See Galatians 3:28.
b) Our quality of work in the marketplace reflects our relationship with Jesus Christ. Our employment is an avenue of God’s provision in our lives. Our work ethic proves our heart. Are we working for God or for men?
a) Our workplace performance has eternal weight and glory. We accumulate eternal rewards by serving the Lord well in our workplace. There is great power in our daily decisions that builds momentum that fulfills destinies and activates callings. Most of the great lessons of serving others, taking responsibility for our actions and learning leadership skills all come from the marketplace.
b) Genesis 2:15 – The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. – The Lord designed work because it mimics His eternal qualities of creativity, care and abundance.
a) All of us will have to give the Lord an account for the course of our lives. 2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
b) What we sow in life, we reap in life. Galatians 6:7-9 – Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
a) The master or employer relationship to those under their influence will ultimately be judged by God. This is a warning to all of those who employ people to relate to them in fair and equitable ways. Knowing that prosperity always follows generosity, Christian employers should take note that blessing people is an avenue that activates God’s favor and abundance in their companies. The most prosperous companies in the United States are those who have generous salary and benefits packages.
a) Devote – Greek – proskartereō – to adhere to one, be his adherent, to be devoted or constant to one, to be steadfastly attentive, to continue all the time in a place, to persevere and not faint, to be courageous in, to be constantly ready.
b) Prayer – Greek – proseuchē – prayer, offering to God, worship, a place of prayer/sacred space.
c) Watchfulness (metaphor for being cautious and active) and thankfulness are postures in prayer that move heaven and release heaven’s rule and reign on the earth.
d) The focus of Paul’s personal prayer request is for advancing the kingdom on earth and that Paul remains faithful to his call and mission as an apostle. Paul viewed his chains not as a hinderance, but that his suffering for Christ was part of destiny in Christ. Acts 9:15-16 was Paul’s personal prophetic word that prophesied his faithful service and suffering for the cause of Christ.
a) The way we carry ourselves, and course of conduct influences the way people perceive and understand our faith. St Francis of Assisi – “It is no use walking anywhere to preach, unless our walking is our preaching”.
b) Our conversations reveal the conditions of our hearts. Jesus said, “for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart”, in Luke 6:45. Speaking to people with a heart of grace often gives us the opportunity to share Christ and His wisdom to others. “Seasoned with salt” is a cultural play on words that speaks of the preserving effect of the Christian message on a society and goodness that godly wisdom brings to peoples lives.
In concluding Colossians, I want to point out some important points as we end this amazing Epistle.
1 – Tychicus and Onesimus delivered this Epistle and read it out loud in the Church in Colossae, they also delivered a letter to the Ephesians and a letter to the Laodicean Church that we do not have. Many scholars believe that this “lost letter” may be the Epistle to the Ephesians.
2 – There was a female pastor in Laodicea.
3 – Just as Archippus (master of the horse) needed to take his ministry and calling seriously, we need to as well.
4 – We should receive the apostolic blessing of Paul, “grace be with you”. Grace is receiving that which we do not deserve, but also the empowering of God to do things we could not do on our own.