17 July Colossians 4:2-17

17 July. Paul writes to Colossae and plans a fourth missionary journey

"Continue praying, keeping alert and always thanking God. Also pray for us that God will give us an opportunity to tell people his message. Pray that we can preach the secret that God has made known about Christ [the Messiah]. That is why I am in prison [literally, "I have been bound"]…"

"Tychicus is my dear brother in Christ and a faithful minister and servant with me in the Lord. He will tell you all the things that are happening to me. This is why I am sending him [to you in Colossi]: so you may know how we are and he may encourage you. I send with him Onesimus, a faithful and dear brother in Christ, and one of your group. They will tell you all that has happened here."

"Aristarchus, a prisoner with me [literally "also bound"], and Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, greet you... Jesus, who is called Justus, also greets you. These are the only Jewish believers who work with me for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me."

"Epaphras, a servant of Jesus Christ, from your group, also greets you. He always prays for you that you will grow to be spiritually mature and have everything God wants for you. I know he has worked hard for you and the people in Laodicea and Hierapolis. Demas and our dear friend Luke, the doctor, greet you."

"Greet the brothers in Laodicea. And greet Nympha and the church that meets in her house. After this letter is read to you, be sure it is also read to the church in Laodicea. And you read the letter I wrote to Laodicea. Tell Archipus, 'Be sure to finish the work the Lord gave you'."

          (Colossians 4:2-17)

 

 

Paul wrote his letter to the believers in Colossae while he was under house arrest in Rome between 60 and 62AD. Despite what some English translations suggest, the Greek New Testament does not say that Paul was in prison. It says he was "bound" - literally "deprived of his freedom" as he was under house arrest according to his friend Luke (see Acts 28:30).

Interestingly, the Letter to the Colossians tells us that Paul's Jewish colleague Aristarchus, from Thessalonica, (see Acts 20:4) was "also bound". We know that Aristarchus was with Paul during the riot in Jerusalem, so it may well be that he was also arrested in the Temple along with Paul.

Luke ended his account of the 'Acts of the Apostles' by telling us that Paul lived under house arrest in Rome for two years (in 60 - 62AD) while awaiting his trial by Emperor Nero. This is because Luke wrote his gospel account of the life of Jesus and his second volume about the 'Acts of the Apostles' during this same period while staying with Paul in Rome (see Luke 1:1-4, Acts 1:1-2, Colossians 4:14 & Philemon 1:24.) Luke finished his account of the Acts of the Apostles towards the end of this period, after Paul had been under house arrest in Rome for two years (see Acts 28:30-31).

As a result, Luke doesn’t mention a number of significant events that happened shortly after 62AD. He makes no mention, for example, of the Great Fire of Rome in 64AD, of the subsequent persecution of Christians by Emperor Nero, or the outbreak of the Romano – Jewish War in 66AD. Neither does he report the outcome of Paul’s trial before Nero, which was unknown at the time he finished 'Acts' in 62AD.

As a result, we don’t know for certain what happened to Paul between 62AD and his death in c.67AD. But using information from his letters – particularly those written after 62AD – we can put together a provisional account of the last five years of Paul’s life.

Contrary to popular opinion, the evidence from Paul's later letters (to Timothy and to Titus) suggests that the outcome of Paul’s trial before Nero in 62AD was positive, and Paul was acquitted at that time (see 2 Timothy 4:16, where Paul refers to his ‘first’ trial).

This is hardly surprising as over two years earlier, in Caesarea in 59AD, the Roman governor Festus and King Herod Agrippa II had agreed that “There is no reason why this man should die or be put in jail” (Acts 26:31). Indeed, Agrippa had said to Festus, “We could let this man go free, but he has asked Caesar to hear his case” (Acts 26:32).

After his acquittal in 62AD, Paul left Rome and probably embarked on a ‘fourth missionary journey’ (see 1 on the map).

Paul commissioned Titus to be the leader of the local church while in Crete (which Paul had visited only briefly before, on his journey to Rome – see Titus 1:5 & Acts 27:8-9). He visited Miletus (and left Trophimus there because he was ill – see 2 Timothy 4:20) and then left Timothy in charge of the church at Ephesus (see 1 Timothy 1:3) (see 2 on the map).

He may have visited Colossae (see Philemon 1:22) before he continued to Troas (where he left his coat with Carpus – see 2 Timothy 4:13) (see 3 on the map).

Paul then went on to Philippi in Macedonia (see 1 Timothy 1:3) where he wrote his First Letter to Timothy and his Letter to Titus between 63 and 66AD (see 4 on the map).

He may have visited Ephesus again (see 1 Timothy 3:14 & 4:13) before travelling back via Corinth (see 2 Timothy 4:20) (see 5 on the map) and Nicopolis (see Titus 3:12 and 6 on the map) to Rome (see 7 on the map) where he was imprisoned in the Mamertine Prison (see 2 Timothy 1:8,16-17 & 2:9).

From Rome he wrote his Second Letter to Timothy shortly before he was executed in c.67AD during the intense persecution of Jews and Christians by Nero (see 2 Timothy 4:6).

Paul may also have visited Spain at some time between 63 and 67AD (see Romans 15:24 & 28) but we have no Biblical evidence of such a visit.

You can read more about Paul's 'Fourth Missionary Journey' @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/pauls-4th-missionary-jou…/


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