Paul's opening exhortation is framed by two imperatives, both of which convey his deep concern to evangelize the lost. The community that God has called out of the world for salvation by the gospel (see Rom 10:8) is called in turn to preach that gospel; evangelism is the church's vocation. The work of evangelism includes prayer (4:2-4) as well as proclamation (4:5-6)—a point already highlighted in the letter's opening words (1:5-9). In fact, this concluding passage connects well with Paul's opening thanksgiving (1:3-12). So Paul's exhortations to pray for the church's mission (4:2-4) and to be wise toward outsiders (4:5) form a sort of bookend, paired with its opening thanksgiving, bringing into even clearer focus the purpose of the letter's main body. That is, Paul's interest in correcting the errant philosophy concerns the church's vocation; the Christless teaching and ascetic morality of the "hollow and deceptive philosophy" (2:8) threaten the church's evangelistic mission to outsiders.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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