Christianity should change you in the deepest and most profound ways possible. It should reshape your worldview until it becomes your worldview. It should change your temperament, creating balance and perspective. It should change your relationships by affecting all your associations and interactions. It should change your life so much that every thought, every word, and every action is first informed by your Christianity. But all of this depends on having the proper view of Christ and what He Himself requires. The book of Colossians demonstrates this principle perfectly as Paul corrects these Christians doctrinally and challenges them morally. As he closes this brief epistle in Colossians 4:16-18, he points them to consider three principles to cement the lessons taught throughout.
Make scripture truly meaningful to you. “Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea” (Col. 4:16). God designed His Word to bring people together in multiple ways. He provided it to be the standard followed by all His people (John 12:48). He inspired it so that it maintains its relevance beyond the original audience (1 Pet. 1:22-25). And He thus created the path for fellowship between congregations and throughout the brotherhood (1 John 1:5-7; 1 Pet. 2:17). In the last phrase, “you” is emphatic, demonstrating Paul’s insistence that Christians need as much inspired instruction as we can get (but enough about the sad disparity in attendance between Sunday morning worship and other gatherings). All of the benefits and blessings offered by God’s Word can only be ours when we love the scriptures enough to let them guide us—all of us—all the time (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Encourage your preacher to do and say all that God expects of him. “And say to Archippus, ‘Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it’” (Col. 4:17). God expects the preacher to take His work seriously and keep it his focus (1 Tim. 4:16). The directive used here emphasizes the importance of looking at the role God has offered with deep appreciation. God also expects the preacher to minister, to serve, with a life filled with spiritual activity and readiness to do God’s bidding because this is the very nature of ministry. Moreover, God expects the preacher to respond to Jesus’ authority without question and give Him priority in everything because it is a ministry—and a responsibility—He gave (Col. 1:25). God expects the preacher to have a heart ready to maximize his opportunities and his abilities (2 Tim. 4:5). Preachers should do better than treat their work as a job; it is a divine opportunity with accompanying divine expectations. And because this is what God expects of a preacher, He expects Christians to encourage Him accordingly, because this is what it takes for a preacher to accomplish all that God expects of him.
Reflect regularly on what has made your blessings possible (v. 18). “This salutation by my own hand—Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen” (Col. 4:18). Three simple sentences close this epistle, but each one draws attention to an element essential for all that we enjoy in Christ. Paul’s signature draws attention to the necessity of apostolic work and inspired communication for us to have knowledge of and access to Christianity at all (Acts 2:42; 2 Tim 3:16-17). Paul’s bonds remind us of the true cost of meaningful conviction (2 Tim. 1:12). It is only because others suffered for the cause of Christ that we can enjoy peace and freedom in Christ. Moreover, it reminds us that God expects this kind of conviction from us as well (2 Tim. 3:12). Paul then closes with a phrase filled with meaning. While some might treat “Grace be with you” simply as a euphemistic way of saying farewell (and, to some degree, it was), at its core, it includes the full expression of God’s love in action aimed positively at mankind to make salvation from sin, fellowship with Him, and eternal life possible.
In the final three verses, Paul has emphasized what all Christians need to be faithful. We need God’s Word (1 Pet. 2:2). We need one another (John 13:13-34; Heb. 10:24-25). We need a dedicated minister (2 Tim. 4:1-8). We need conviction regarding everything God has done for us and taught us (Rom. 12:1-2). The Colossians needed to know how much they needed this epistle, and so do we. They had allowed Jewish tradition, contemporary philosophy, and wild speculation influence their view of Christ and Christianity more than God’s inspired testimony. Some today suffer from the same problem. Regardless, we should take Paul’s words to heart and let these heavenly considerations transform us.