Sermon Notes: Colossians 4:16-18

Colossians 4:16-18

Maturity in our affections for the church

Why are we taking so much time to finish off Colossians moving through Paul’s benediction in what seems to be a boring set of blah, blah, blah?

2 Timothy 3:16 tells us all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness that the man of God may be fully equipped and lacking nothing. 

It’s easy to quip this Bible verse regarding one of our favorite verses or big doctrine verses and then breeze or skip over introductions, conclusions, and hard chapters and difficult books of the Bible as though there is nothing to be gleaned or God wouldn’t give me more to bite off than I could chew. Surprise!

We want to practice in our preaching what we say we believe about the Bible, and therefore, we don’t want to leave a scrap of goodness behind in our study. 


Paul is in a Roman prison. 

Paul has never met the gathered church at Colossae. 

Epaphras, a disciple of Paul’s work, has gone as an apostolic voice preaching the good news, and he has established this fellowship. 

Now, they face some challenges that are being created from some false teaching, and Epaphras has come to search out Paul for counsel and help. 

The church is that important. 

NOTE: Don’t forget the church is the entire context of the New Testament. God is working out his kingdom through the local church. KDSC. The kingdom produces the church, and the church is the vehicle the kingdom comes through.

This reality is the underlying current of the New Testament, and the Scribes of the Spirit who are penning the New Testament, and the disciples on the front lines of the work, are laboring at how to best do the work. 

We know this work and challenge at Colossae (in modern-day Turkey) had to be serious and vital for the church because Epaphras set out to find Paul in Italy in prison. 

Paul helps Epaphras, and he writes this letter to the church and intends it to be read to other churches that have been established in the region, and he wants Colossae to read the letter that he sent to Laodicea that was supposed to be passed on to Colossae.  

Why would Paul go to these lengths while imprisoned? 

Listen to his words in 2 Corinthians 11:28 (CSB) 28 Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my concern for all the churches.

Paul’s work as a “sent one” (apostle) carries weight and responsibility pre-loaded with challenges and wounds.

Listen again to Paul’s words:

1 Corinthians 4:9-13 (CSB) 9 For I think God has displayed us, the apostles, in last place, like men condemned to die: We have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to people. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! 11 Up to the present hour we are both hungry and thirsty; we are poorly clothed, roughly treated, homeless; 12 we labor, working with our own hands. When we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we respond graciously. Even now, we are like the scum of the earth, like everyone’s garbage.

Paul and his companions have suffered greatly so that the church might be established in holy strength on mission for God’s glory with an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. 

This is who is writing to the Colossians and this is the juice behind his closing worlds in chapter 4 of his letter to the Colossians. 

Colossians 4:16-18 Let’s read it together. 

Paul is modeling maturity for us even in his closing words. He’s not perfect, yet he is God’s apostle chosen for this work, and as he said in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Imitate me as I also imitate Christ.”

The “also” is a key. He believes his people are trying to imitate Christ along with him, and to the extent he is doing it like they may not be, he wants them to imitate him as he’s trying to be like Jesus. 

This is what Paul is doing for the Colossians in writing. He’s showing them what maturity in Jesus looks like as they also strive for that end with him, and Paul’s only option is to send it in written form. 

So, we see in Paul’s closing words maturity that is worth imitating. 

What does maturity in our affections for the church look like according to these final words?

  1. Maturing Christians bless with their words. V. 18c
    1. What does it mean to speak blessing? 
      1. Blessing is a two-way method of speaking to God and people at the same time. 
      2. Blessing is spoken to a person with words rooted in God’s word to his people as a way of saying to a person what God would have them hear from his word. 
    2. “Grace be with you.”
      1. Although this “blessing” concludes Paul’s letter, it sits as a banner over the entire letter. 
        1. Pauls’s life-giving word over Colossae is “grace be with you.”
          1. Grace in the Bible is the “power of God” applied to God’s people. 
            1. What Paul is speaking over them in blessing is God’s power for them to grow up into Christ in every way he’s addressed them. 
        2. Application: 
          1. Develop the habit of speaking Scriptural tone, content, and theology to each other based on need and audience.
            1. A timely word to a brother or sister from God’s word is often one of the ways God speaks to us, strengthens us, and even re-directs us. 
          2. Develop the ability to bless face to face and in written word. 
            1. Let’s us not overlook the fact that Paul is sending this blessing in writing. 
            2. Sometimes, in a text-message world, we communicate via the written word, and it should be full of blessings not anything else that might actually be sinning with a Christian t-shirt on it.  
  2. Maturing Christians love the church. V. 16
    1. KDSC is not in any way putting the church last in line. It is an order of operations. 
      1. This sequence is how God engineered the gospel by which he would build his church. 
      2. The kingdom produces the church, so if we are not seeing the blossoming of the local church while we are talking “kingdom”, then we are not really doing “kingdom”. 
        1. Kingdom, although we’ve been talking “kingdom” for years, has become en vogue language, and it’s easy to just say “kingdom”, and not have any clue what is being said. 
        2. The kingdom of God is eternally deep, rich, full of power, full of life, so simple children can get it in the parables, and so complex it stumps Pharisees and Sadducees as well as those who won’t take time to reflect. 
    2. Jesus’ rule and salvation is his kingdom coming over all things, and he reigns and saves to establish the church and purify his church so that she might be presented to him on the last day perfectly clean. 
      1. Paul knows this, and he is writing to see that this church, for who he feels a weight, grows up into Christ.
      2. The language here implies that the letter needs to be read to as many as can hear it. 
        1. The ESV renders it more literal than the CSB…“among you” rather than “at your gathering”. 
        2. The point being Paul wants as many people as possible to hear his words.
        3. Application:
          1. Love the church as Jesus does because you are part of it, and we are benefited personally as we love each other. 
          2. Don’t major on tactics for the church. Let those come and go very loosely. 
            1. Do major on the fruit of the Spirit that is the fruit of the kingdom and should be part of the fruit we are producing rather than trackable and quantifiable “things”. 
              1. If I, Mitchell Jolly, spend the majority of my time on teaching you tactics (although not unimportant), rather than on Spirit fruit, I’m failing badly. 
          3. Don’t allow Jesus’ church to become last in priority. 
            1. Making the local church a priority begins with yourself being healthy emotionally, spiritually, and physically (these three are really 1 in 3). 
            2. This health extends to your Eden at home.
            3. When your Eden is healthy, you’ll engage your church’s Edens well.  
            4. The healthy Eden at home extends to the other Edens covenanted on mission together. 
          4. Ephesians 5:15-21 (CSB) 15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is (and the Lord’s will is not my preferred tactics). 18 And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit: 19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.
  1. Maturing Christians have spiritual father/son – mother/daughter relationships that are fruitful. V. 17
    1. We don’t know what Paul’s connection with Archippus is, but Paul knows this brother who is leading in some capacity and has a relationship with him in such a way that his instruction carries weight even from a distance. 
      1. This long-range impact is the effect of having these kinds of healthy relationships in the church over a long obedience and labor in the same direction for years and years and years NOT 6 month flash in the pan love of Jesus that wears out when we get bored.
        1. Although I don’t get to see Bob as regularly as I’d like when he calls I answer. When he texts I respond. When he gives instructions, I listen. When he makes an offer, I consider it even when it’s from the other side of the world. 
        2. These interactions between discipler and disciple, give strength and help to stay on mission. 
          1. Application:
            1. This is not a “to do” for folks who are overwhelmed with raising kids, working their job, and trying to be a good husband or wife, and serve their church. 
            2. It is a call to see your closet relationships as discipleship opportunities and when capacity allows, invite more into that father/son and mother/daughter relationship. 
            3. Start with your Eden. 
              1. In our more-more-more-more world, we are wrecking ourselves with extra spiritual things and calling it gospel work, and I believe there is something not quite right. 
              2. Some people have more capacity not because they are stronger people, but because their life setting allows for margin. 
              3. Some people’s lives are as full as they can be because stages of life require more from them than others in their particular stage to survive and supply for their Eden. 
                1. Let’s not assume all is equal all the time. 
            4. Point? Don’t feel pressure to do more. Hear. Obey. Be faithful where you are. Let the Spirit produce his fruit in and around you. 
              1. Do hear the Spirit invite you to start at home and move out as divine opportunity merges with divine capacity. 
  2. Maturing Christians strive to provide words of instruction, wisdom, correction, and love. V. 18a
    1. Remember, this is Paul’s example to the whole church, not just a few supposed “elite”. 
    2. Paul is writing this with his own hand while in prison, and I’m quite certain his environment is not conducive to comfort, ease of writing, and a clear mind. 
      1. Paul, somehow by the Spirit’s empowerment, is able to give the instruction in this letter in his own handwriting. 
        1. This is powerful. 
          1. Application:
            1. Strive to pass on instruction to those who will come behind you. 
              1. Seek out folks and speak life words. 
              2. Send life-giving texts to people during the week. 
  3. Maturing Christians can be transparent about the hardships suffered from their labor for the gospel. V. 18b
    1. There is no such thing as church life without scars. 
      1. The kingdom of God invades the enemy-held territory, and that territory is people and institutions run by people. 
      2. Often, our deepest hurts happen on the inside of this labor. 
        1. Sometimes unintentionally and sometimes on purpose. 
      3. Paul has experienced being abandoned by brothers and speaks of his wounds at the hands of insiders with some of his most emotional writing. 
    2. Paul does not hide his imprisonment.
    3. He’s there for the gospel, and he would like to be out attending to the things that cheer his heart, so he asks them to not forget his struggle in prison. 
    4. He’s not ashamed of the stigma of what he’s enduring. 
      1. Application:
        1. When you have gospel wounds, share them with trusted people. 
          1. Don’t throw your pearls before swine, but do throw them before trusted fellow disciples. 
        2. Grieve the losses. 
        3. Process your emotions. 
        4. Stay engaged with each other. 


You know what? Paul doesn’t have to do any of this. 

But he is compelled to do it. 

Why? I’m going to let his words be our conclusion with no commentary from me. Listen to Paul:

2 Corinthians 4:7-18 (CSB) 7 Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; 9 we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. 10 We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed in our body. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’s sake, so that Jesus’s life may also be displayed in our mortal flesh. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life in you. 13 And since we have the same spirit of faith in keeping with what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke, we also believe, and therefore speak. 14 For we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you. 15 Indeed, everything is for your benefit so that, as grace extends through more and more people, it may cause thanksgiving to increase to the glory of God.

16 Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

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