The Work of Love: Colossians 4 (4)
Opening Prayer: Psalm 31.23, 24
Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints!
For the LORD preserves the faithful,
And fully repays the proud person.
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the LORD.
Sing Psalm 31.23, 24
(Brother James’ Air: The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll not Want)
O love the Lord, all you, His saints! He keeps us faithfully.
But all who act in sinful pride His wrath shall surely see.
Be strong and let your heart not fret; wait on Him constantly!
Read Colossians 4.10, 11
1. What are the three men Paul mentions here?
2. To what would that lead in our lives?
Paul mentions three additional “fellow workers for the Kingdom of God” (v. 11). This is the only mention of Jesus, called Justus. He may have come to Paul’s aid from among the believers in Rome, where Paul was when he wrote Colossians.
Aristarchus was a Macedonian from Thessalonica (Acts 19.19) and a long-time companion of Paul. He accompanied him from Caesarea to Rome and continued his ministry with Paul there (cf. Acts 20.3; 27.2).
Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, was also in Rome, and Paul regarded him as a fellow worker. This was not always the case. Mark had abandoned Paul and Barnabas on an earlier mission (Acts 13.13). When Barnabas wanted to take him on a second missionary journey, Paul refused, and the two parted company (Acts 15.36-40). Barnabas took Mark under his wing, as he had done with Paul. The result was Mark’s being reclaimed for the work of the ministry, and his joining Paul in Rome as a fellow worker.
As workers for the Kingdom of God, these men, like Paul, would have been keen to grow in the Lord and to take up the work of evangelizing, teaching, and making disciples wherever He took them. We are also called to be fellow workers with the Lord and His apostles, for the work of the Kingdom goes forward through folks like us.
Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
We often think of Paul as strong in the Lord, perhaps even a little unemotional, maybe even steely. But here we see a touch of softness and emotion: “These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God…they have proved to be a comfort to me” (Col. 4.11). These men were his friends when he was in prison. This time. And they were a comfort to him. How grateful we are to Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Justus, Epaphras, Luke and Demas who showed our beloved brother Paul, love.
We learn about friendship and love from Jesus, who said: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (Jn. 15.13-15).
These men loved Jesus and longed to serve Him with their lives. They also sacrificially loved Paul. Loving and caring for him in prison could have been dangerous work. Yet they did it. Gladly and fervently, they served Christ by loving and caring for Paul. And Paul loved and cared for them, teaching them to grow in their love and faith for the Lord. It was, as so many things are in the Christian’s walk, circuitous. Putting on love through teaching, service, comfort, and care just keeps going around. It is why all people are drawn to Christ and His Church. Or at least that’s the plan.
“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (Jn. 12.32). “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13.34, 35).
These were all faithful, fellow workers for the Kingdom of God. Let’s join them and be a comfort and encouragement to our fellow workers today.
1. What does it mean to be a “fellow worker for the Kingdom”? Would you describe yourself this way? Explain.
2. What fellow worker for the Kingdom will you comfort and encourage today?
3. Why do we need one another in our work of seeking the Kingdom and righteousness of God?
Paul had differed with Barnabas, on the account of this Mark, yet he is not only reconciled, but recommends him to the churches; an example of a truly Christian and forgiving spirit. If men have been guilty of a fault, it must not always be remembered against them. We must forget as well as forgive. The apostle had comfort in the communion of saints and ministers. One is his fellow-servant, another his fellow-prisoner, and all his fellow-workers, working out their own salvation, and endeavoring to promote the salvation of others. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Colossians 4.10-18
Use me today, O Lord, to do Your work and encourage Your workers as I…
Closing Prayer: Psalm 31.14-22
Give thanks for your great salvation. Call on the Lord to help you increase in it. Pray for your co-workers in the Kingdom, that they may rejoice in the Lord’s grace and strength this day.
(Brother James’ Air: The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll not Want)
But I will trust in You, O Lord; You are my God and King!
My times are in Your hand; from those who hate me rescue me!
Shine down Your face on me with grace; let Your love on me be!
Let me not come to shame, O Lord, for on Your Name I call.
Let wicked men to hell be cast, let shame upon them fall.
Their lies and plots shall come to naught; to silence send them all!
How great the goodness You reserve for those who fear You, Lord,
who rest in You and boldly stand before men in Your Word.
You cover them from plots of men; You shelter them, O Lord!
Blessed be the Lord, for He has shown His steadfast love to me!
In my alarm I cried to Him; He heard my fervent plea!
In fear and dread with You I pled; You heard and rescued me!
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scripture are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.