The concluding section of each of Paul's letters contains his benediction, typically expressed as a prayer or doxology. Ancient writers usually added various greetings, specific instructions and general exhortations to their closings. Paul is no different, although he baptizes these literary conventions with the distinctive phrases of his Christian ministry. Appropriately, then, Paul's goodbye to the Colossian believers includes exhortations concerning their evangelistic work (4:2-6) and internal relations (4:7-17), before concluding with his benedictory doxology (4:18).
While this concluding passage has an eye to the situation facing his Colossian readers, it actually falls outside of the letter's main body, where Paul addresses the audience's spiritual crisis more directly and pastorally. In my opinion, then, we should not understand these verses as part of Paul's polemic against his opponents. They rather reflect his general interest in the spiritual well-being of any congregation under his care, regardless of the particular problems it might be facing. His exhortations in this letter's benediction convey a universal message, then, equally valid for any congregation. Yet this passage is also interesting because it provides us with a window into earliest Christianity and offers an intriguing model that clarifies the dynamics of congregational life.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
For the best Bible Gateway experience, upgrade to Bible Gateway Plus. For less than the cost of a latte each month, you'll gain access to a vast digital Bible study library and reduced banner ads to minimize distractions from God's Word. Try it free for 30 days!