Colossians Housegroup Material – Week 4
Colossians 3 v 18 – 4 v 1
18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.
4 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
This section of a letter is often named the “Household Code” where the author gives specific instruction to members of his household or those under his authority. Paul uses this stylistic approach in Colossians, Ephesians and Titus. In non-Christian letters the rules would be for slaves, children and wives. Paul, however, gives rules for men as well. He is also emphasising the necessity of living the Christian life at home as well as at “church”.
In looking at these statements we do have to remember that this letter was written in a very different time and as with all illustrations using human experience they are tied up in the experience of the listener and what would be relevant and thought provoking to them. Paul is trying to illustrate how our human order is changed by our relationship with Jesus.
Wives are told to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives.
1. How do these things go hand in hand?
2. What happens if only one side is prepared to do their part?
3. Does it make it easier if the other person does their part?
Children are told to be obedient and parents not to embitter their children.
4. What does it mean to embitter a child?
5. Do these two things together help to foster a healthy relationship between children and their parents?
The slaves and masters section is objectionable to us today but can still bring some insights to us in our Christian lives. We can perhaps be tempted to less than optimum performance when we find ourselves in a situation we do not like. Both at work and at home.
6. Is it easy to rationalise doing less than our best because of circumstances which we do not like?
7. What does Paul remind them and us of, so that they and we will work hard and do right?
8. Do you think what Paul says to slaves master’s would have relevance to those who manage people and our politicians?
Colossians 4 v 2 – 18
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
7 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. 9 He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.
10 My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) 11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
16 After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.
17 Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.”
18 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
9. In what practical ways can you devote yourself to prayer?
10. As a church how do we obey this instruction in verse 2?
11. How much of our individual and church prayer life is concerned with this proclamation of the gospel?
12. Who has impressed you with their Christian behaviour and why?
13. Are there any parts of your own life which do not fit with these verses? Does this sometimes depend on the situations we find ourselves in?
14. Is there anything you find helpful to remind you to strive to be a positive example?
The letter finishes with Paul’s final greetings. So we finish with some more general questions on the letter.
15. How important is communication in Christian fellowship?
16. What does it mean to wrestle in prayer?
17. What have been the big growth periods for you in your Christian life and if you can identify them, what were the factors that brought this growth about?
18. Does the fact that Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter make a difference to how you view it?
19. Think back over the whole letter. Have you learnt something new or had something strike you afresh? Has the letter made a difference to you and if so how?