The Expository Files





Colossians 4:2-6


Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

“Continue” is a significant word for Christians to highlight as the New Testament is read. Think of baptism as the beginning. Everything after that is continuing. And in this passage, prayer deserves that continued activity of faith. And in those prayers, we should watch to be certain thanksgiving is present. (Can you imagine thanking God too much?)

Paul expresses his interests in the prayers of Christians in Colossae. This is one of those several texts where the Holy Spirit gives us a window into the heart of Paul.

Consider all that Paul might have asked for. Pray that we are safe, well-fed, adequately supported, received with amazing hospitality, never criticized.

Instead Paul said, “…pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison, that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.”

What emerges here is the apostle’s priority: Preaching the Word! And, do not miss how clear he is about being clear! He wanted to be so clear, people hearing him would understand the revelation of the “mystery of Christ.” [This is not a mystery hidden, but a mystery revealed; see Rom. 16:25-27.]

As Christians continue their walk with the Lord after baptism, they must “walk in wisdom toward outsiders.” There is an ongoing relationship we have with non-Christians. We interact with neighbors, co-workers and friends who are not committed to Christ. One part of our evangelistic outreach must be the testimony of our lives, the influence of our behavior and reactions. We are to be the light of the world.

Making the best use of the time, or in some translations this is worded, “redeeming the time.” Wouldn’t it be great to log on to Amazon and navigate to the “time department” and buy some extra hours or days? Or years!!

Dream on. What God expects of His people is, to wisely use the time He grants to us. We are charged in this passage to be good stewards of time. This involves the acceptance of the time the generous Creator gives us (with thanksgiving), then the use of that time with such devotion, we glorify Him and grow in our service to Christ.

Part of this good use of time is, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

Follow this carefully. If a generous Creator gives us time and all the other blessings we do not deserve, shouldn’t we be gracious in all that we think and say? No doubt.

“Seasoned with salt” is not salty language in the crude sense. It is speech that comes from those who are the salt of the earth. It seasons and makes pleasant and useful the various relationships and conversations we are part of. The responsibility is to “know how you ought to answer each person.” This is about thoughtful speech, not impulsive speech. Helpful, not hurtful. Spiritual, not carnal. Godly, not ungodly.

Continue in these things! 


Hendricksen & Kistemaker: A further description of this kind of gracious speech is: seasoned with salt. Those whom the Lord calls “the salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13; Mark 9:49, 50; Luke 14:34, 35) must not be insipid in their language. Salt prevents corruption. It is hard to believe that this idea was absent from the mind of Paul, for in the parallel passage he says, “Let no corrupt speech proceed from your mouth, but only such (speech) as is good for edification, as fits the need, that it may impart grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29). But not only does salt have preservative power. It also has pungency and flavor. Speech flavored with salt is, accordingly, not empty or insipid, but thought-provoking and worth-while. It is not a waste of time. Also, such speech does not repel. It attracts, has spiritual charm. Accordingly, it is distinctive: a Christian is known by his speech as well as by his conduct.

Now in their conversations believers must be mindful not only of the particular occasion that evokes their remarks but also of the person addressed. Hence, the apostle continues: so that you may know how to answer each individual. In other words, they should speak the right word at the right time to the right person. This reminds us of 1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord, always being ready to make a defense to anyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” The Holy Spirit himself will help them to do this. Hence, they need not be frightened (Matt. 10:19, 20; Mark 13:11). Christ will give them a mouth and wisdom (Luke 21:14, 15).[1]


Matthew Henry: No duties can be done aright, unless we persevere in fervent prayer, and watch therein with thanksgiving. The people are to pray particularly for their ministers. Believers are exhorted to right conduct towards unbelievers. Be careful in all converse with them, to do them good, and recommend religion by all fit means. Diligence in redeeming time, commends religion to the good opinion of others. Even what is only carelessness may cause a lasting prejudice against the truth. Let all discourse be discreet and seasonable, as becomes Christians. Though it be not always of grace, it must always be with grace. Though our discourse be of that which is common, yet it must be in a Christian manner. Grace is the salt which seasons our discourse, and keeps it from corrupting. It is not enough to answer what is asked, unless we answer aright also. [2] 



  By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 23.10; October 2016