THE COMMUNITY OF FAITH IN ACTION
Welcome and Prayer
Leader: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Leader: Let us pray.
Almighty God and heavenly Father, we thank you because you have revealed yourself through Jesus Christ your Son, who has brought the power your love into our lives. We have tested your love and you have made us living witnesses through your presence in our hearts and in our lives. Enlighten our minds by your Holy Spirit, we pray; to give us confidence that your truth will bring freedom where there is oppression, joy where there is sorrow and hope where there may be despair. We ask for strength in all things through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Overview of the Session
Up to this point, Paul has provided answers to questions that we don’t have. As we read in this final section, Christians find that faith is not about being “Lone Rangers” out for a ride. A community of faith has nurtured these believers in Colosse, Laodicea and Hierapolis to this point. Paul identifies these individuals and commends them for their work. Shortly after this letter was sent, two of those people Paul mentions, Mark and Luke will write the story of Jesus’ life from their conversations with eyewitnesses of his life. So he encourages the readers (us included) to be supportive of each other and to reach out in patient love to those who are not in relationship with God.
Sharing our stories
Not many people come to faith in God in isolation. There was some special community, be it family, church, young people’s group or a combination of these, who made possible our relationship with God. How did this work out in your life? Who were those significant people who brought you to see God’s love through Jesus?
Reflection from personal study
In the final verse of this book, Paul writes with his own hand, “Remember my chains.” That has several meanings, not the least of which is, “I’m not a free man.” He can’t move around—but they can. He is tied down, but he is free to pray. He can’t speak to them, but he can write. In effect, he is thinking and acting “outside the box” and he asks them to do the same thing.
Maybe they hadn’t thought about it, but did the great Apostle Paul need their prayers? He must have for he asks them to pray for him—for opportunities to share Jesus love and to do so in an effective way. He doesn’t stop there—asking them to look around for opportunities to share the love of God. Prepare yourselves, he says–get filled with God and his knowledge. You’ll be ready whenever God brings someone across your path.
2 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. 3 Don’t forget to pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to preach about his secret plan—that Christ is also for you Gentiles. That is why I am here in chains. 4 Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.
5 Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone.
7 Tychicus, a much loved brother, will tell you how I am getting along. He is a faithful helper who serves the Lord with me. 8 I have sent him on this special trip to let you know how we are doing and to encour-age you. 9 I am also sending Onesimus, a faithful and much loved brother, one of your own people. He and Tychicus will give you all the latest news.
10 Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin. And as you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way. 11 Jesus (the one we call Justus) also sends greetings. These are the only Jewish Christians among my co-workers; they are with me here for the Kingdom of God. And what a comfort they have been.
12 Epaphras, from your city, a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident of the whole will of God. 13 I can assure you that he has agonized for you and also for the Christians of Laodicea and Hierapolis.
14 Dear Doctor Luke sends his greetings, as does Demas. 15 Please give my greetings to our Christian brothers and sisters at Laodicea and to Nympha and those who meet in her house.
16 After you have read this letter, pass it on to the church at Laodicea so they can read it, too. And you should read the letter I wrote to them. 17 And say to Archippus, “Be sure to carry out the work the Lord gave you.”
18 Here is my greeting in my own handwriting—Paul.
Remember my chains.
May the grace of God be with you.
|1. How do alertness and thankfulness help us in our praying?
2. Paul holds up his chains to show his devotion to them and the Gospel. Why do you think he feels he needs prayer for himself?
3. Based on what you read in vv. 2-4, who could you suggest that we should include in our prayers?
4. In chapter 1, vv. 15-20, Paul reveals the greatness of Christ. He wants everyone to hear the good news. How do verses 5 and 6 help us in giving out our knowledge of Jesus to others?
5. Notice how Paul brings Tychicus and Onesimus together in vv. 7-9. They know them both, but one is a runaway slave. By including Onesimus, what is Paul saying to the people at Colosse?
6. We read about Aristarchus in Acts 19:29. He got roughed up by some rioters in Ephesus. Mark was the cause of the friction between Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15:36-39 that split up the team. What can we learn about forgiving and forgetting from Paul’s comments regarding Mark?
7. In the space of four chapters, Paul devotes significant time to prayer. In the first chapter, he reveals how he has been praying for them (1:9-14). In this chapter, he asks them to pray for him (4:2-4). Now he tells them how much Epaphras, one of their own, has been praying for them (4:12). As you re-read these verses, what can we learn about prayer from what Paul has written?
8. Paul’s vision of the church is inclusive. Those with him in Rome are all mentioned. He sends greetings to the three churches in the Lycus Valley. These churches met, in large measure, in homes. What advantages for developing community and reaching others with the Good News would meeting in homes provide?
9. Although Paul’s letters are dictated, he autographed each in his own handwriting. He mentions his chains again. He has shown how to have freedom while chained. Is there something that is keeping you “chained” in your Christian life? Find any suggestions for relief from this chapter?
10. Paul is zealous to see the Gospel reach as many as possible. From what he has written in this section, what do you see that would make your part in this enterprise more effective?
11. Review for a moment the study you have made of this book. What one or two things stand out to you? Is there something you have discovered that has helped you grow in your faith?
Devote yourselves to prayer Don’t forget to pray for us
Let your conversation be gracious Remember my chains
Epaphras prays earnestly for you Onesimus, a faithful and much loved brother
this section he shows we are bound together by prayer, witness and fellowship.
He sees these three making a strong cord for spreading the Good News everywhere. He uses people as examples of Christian faith so that those in the Lycus Valley can understand what he is talking about. There is Tychicus, Aristarchus, Mark, Epaphras, Onesimus, Justus, Nympha and himself that in one way or another are working together for the Kingdom of God. Paul mentions a letter to the church at Laodicea—we don’t have that letter. It’s possible that Paul was referring to the letter of Ephesians, but there is no conclusive evidence of that. The churches in Colosse, Laodicea and Hierapolis were probably all started by Epaphras.
There is a word of admonition for Archippus. In Philemon, he is identified by Paul as “our fellow soldier.” It may be that he was a pastor within the church of Colosse.
CLOSING In the opening verses of this book Paul highlighted that he was praying for them regularly. In the closing chapter he requests that those in the Lycus Valley pray for him. He wanted them to see we are in this together and that we should support each other through prayer. To help us do this, those who would like, share any request for prayer you have. Others in the group will write your request in the space to the right. It is our intention that we will pray for each other during the coming week.
Ephesians. 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
My Prayer Partners: They’ve Asked Prayer for: