Colossians 4:2-4, “2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 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— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.”
In this final section of Colossians, Paul encourages Christians that since Jesus is Lord over all, they have every blessing because of their union with Christ. Paul, in Colossians 4, calls Christians to cultivate a life of persistent prayer. As those who have been adopted into God’s very family, we have full and free access to the Father (Hebrews 4:14-16). Christians are to come before the Lord with “thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2).
The Purpose of Watchfulness
Paul says that the Colossians are to be watchful. In 1 Corinthians 16:13, Paul tells the Corinthians to be watchful. The word there is word grēgoreō, which means to watch, be alert, and is used to be awake as opposed to sleeping. The word watchful here in Colossians 4:2 is the same used in 1 Corinthians 16:13 by Paul.
1 Thessalonians 5:10 says, “who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.” and he uses a word here for being awake that means to be being alive as opposed to being dead. In 1 Thessalonians 5:6, Paul uses the same word in a spiritual way, “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.” The word watchful here can be used for physical and spiritual awakening. For example, in 1 Corinthians 16:13, Paul is telling the Christians to wake up and be alert.
The Christian Life is One of Alertness
Paul’s point is that the Christian life is one of alertness which is why every Christian needs to understand what’s going on, to evaluate it, and to be aware of what the adversary is doing. Paul is saying you can’t live the Christian life asleep; you have to be alert. In the case of the Corinthians, they weren’t watching. In the case of the Colossians, Paul wants them to continue to alert, so they don’t become like the Corinthians. Jesus warned the disciples to “watch and pray” in Mark 14:38, so they would not fall into temptation.
In 1 Peter 5:8, Peter says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” The one who will be devoured by the roaring like Satan is the one who is not watching and praying. Christians need to be alert to the wily, crafty, subtleties of Satan, and need to understand how he operates through the lust of the flesh, and eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). Satan comes in the same three waves day after day and year after year, so every Christian should be aware and learn his strategies and be mindful of them. Dear Christian, don’t get trapped in the schemes of Satan because he’s looking for the man or woman who is taking a snooze, please watch out for Satan.
Be Watchful and Alert to Temptation
Every Christian is to be alert to temptation because you can’t just go through the world thinking that everything won’t affect you when, in fact, it will hurt you, and expose you to temptation. Watch! Keep your eyes open.
Be Watchful for Apathy and Indifference
It’s not only that we are to be watchful of Satan and his devices or even to temptation; it’s also that we are to watch out for apathy and indifference. If you think dear Christian that the Lord wants you to coast into heaven, you are wrong. God will discipline you because He is a loving God who wants you to grow in Christlikeness (Hebrews 12:5). He wants you to not only believe the right things from the Word of God, but He wants you to live rightly before Him so that He may pour out all the blessings He wants for you. When you get to the place (if you ever do) where you are comfortable with your sin, and you are no longer trying to face it and deal with it, then you are in real trouble. All of this is why dear Christian, you are to watch for apathy and indifference to sin.
Be Watchful for False Teachers
We are not only to watch out for Satan’s schemes temptation, temptation, apathy, and indifference, but we are to be watchful for false teachers. False teachers come in teaching contrary to the revealed Word of God and don’t live according to biblical doctrine. 2 Timothy 4:5 says, “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Be aware of false doctrine and false teaching; keep your mind alert, dear Christian, because you are to ground your life in the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Be Watchful in Prayer
Christians are also to be watchful in prayer. 1 Peter 4:7, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” Ephesians 6:18, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” Every Christian is to watch, and you can’t pray without knowing what’s going on because you need to know the specifics of how you can and are to pray.
Be Watchful for the 2nd Coming of the Lord Jesus
There is one last thing we are to watch for, and that is the Lord’s return. Matthew 25:13, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Christians watch because the Lord Jesus is coming back, so we watch our lives and eagerly long for the return of the Lord Jesus (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Thankfulness is a Posture of the Heart
Paul not only says we are to be watchful but thankful. He says this because thanksgiving helps Christians to focus our hearts on all Jesus has done in His finished and sufficient work. Thankfulness is the proper posture of a heart captive by the grace of grace (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Paul wraps up his discussion in Colossians 4:3-4 asking the Colossians to pray he will have opportunities to share the goodness of Jesus Christ with others (Ephesians 6:18-20; 2 Thess. 31). Christians should pray for missionaries and church leaders around the world to declare the mystery of the gospel found in the finished and sufficient work of Jesus.
Not every Christian will be a preacher or have a public ministry of teaching others. Every Christian, though, has been invited to spread the preached gospel by praying for those who do to have “a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3). As Christians, we must partner with others for the sake of gospel ministry (Colossians 4:3-4; Mark 3:13-19).
The harvest is plentiful. Jesus says, but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37). You might not be a writer, a preacher, speaker, or teacher, but you can have a significant ministry using the gifts the Lord has given you. By being faithful in prayer, watchful in our Christian lives, and having the right posture of heart in thankfulness to the grace of God, you can make a difference, because all around us are people who need the grace of God.
You can use your gifts of hospitality to share Christ with people. You can share Christ with others in your workplace as you use the gifts, talents, and abilities the Lord has given you. Single mothers (or fathers), married couples, and grandparents can make a significant difference in future generations by helping to raise children who come to know the Lord and to love Him genuinely. Wherever you are at today, and whatever the Lord has given you to do vocation wise, please take time to evaluate your life and ask yourself the following questions:
- “Am I steadfast in prayer?”
- “Am I watching and alert to Satan’s schemes?”
- “Am I genuinely thankful for the grace of God in Christ alone?”
- “Am I faithfully praying for my pastors, church leaders, and missionaries, and others?”
Paul’s encouragement here in Colossians 4:2-4 is that every Christian continue to grow in being prayerful, watchful, and thankful. May such characteristics continue to define our lives as Christians, for this is what a life of growing in grace looks like. If today you aren’t growing in these things as a Christian confess to the Lord and cast yourself upon the righteousness of Christ, your Advocate, and He will cleanse you of all unrighteousness so you can continue to grow in Him (1 John 1:9; 2:1).
Dave Jenkins is happily married to Sarah Jenkins. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, the Church, and sound theology. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, and is the Host for the Equipping You in Grace Podcast. He is the author of The Word Explored: The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What To Do About It (House to House, 2021). You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Parler, Youtube, or read his newsletter. Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Dave received his M.A.R. and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.