Colossians 4

Chapter four closes this short letter with a series of final requests and a long list of personal greetings. In Colossians 4:2-6 Paul asked that they would continue to pray for his ministry, even while he was “in chains.” He pleaded that they would be careful in their own interactions with unbelievers, so that they would not unnecessarily turn people off from the gospel. Apparently, this was especially needed with their words, which he contended should be gracious, designed to build up others.

Paul clarified that Tychicus and Onesimus were both his ambassadors on this mission (Colossians 4:7-9). Although he did not found the church in Colossae, it seems he did know many of the people there and sent his personal greetings to emphasize again the personal nature of his care for them (Colossians 4:10-18). The mention of several people who are not named elsewhere alongside other well-known companions gives us a peek into the size of Paul’s “organization” of people that he used to lead and care for his ever-growing network of churches.

Because Luke was not mentioned in the same grouping with Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus (Colossians 4:10-11), who Paul singled out as being “from the circumcision” (NASB), many have concluded that he was a Gentile. However, there are at least three reasons to recognize his Jewishness. First, Luke’s understanding of minute details regarding the Jewish feasts and traditions is unmistakable throughout his writings (Luke and Acts). A Gentile would be unlikely to fixate on those details. Second, Luke was in Jerusalem when Paul was arrested and charged with taking a Gentile into the Temple. However, it was not Luke who was the supposed problem, but Trophimus (Acts 21:29). Third, Paul wrote that it was the Jews to whom God had entrusted his word (Romans 3:2). If Luke were a Gentile, he would have been the sole writer of Scripture who was not a Jew. It is better to see Paul’s greeting from Luke and Demas as from special friends, rather than with the intention of pointing to their ethnicity.

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