Colossians 4:3
as you pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.
An Exhortation to PrayerU.R. Thomas Colossians 4:2-4
Conditions of Success in PrayerE.S. Prout Colossians 4:2-4
Prayer and PrudenceR. Findlayson Colossians 4:2-6
The Life of Prayer and SympathyR.M.e Colossians 4:2-6
Doors Shut and OpenBishop D. Wilson.Colossians 4:3-4
Ministers Dependent on the Prayers of the PeopleH. Melvill, B. D.Colossians 4:3-4
Prayer for MinistersH. Melvill, D. D.)Colossians 4:3-4
Prayer for the Apostle and His CompanionsT. Croskery Colossians 4:3, 4
Revival Through PrayerG. Barlow.Colossians 4:3-4
The Door of UtteranceBishop Alexander.Colossians 4:3-4
The People's Prayer and the Minister's WorkColossians 4:3-4
Withal praying for us also, that God may open unto us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ for which I am also in bonds; that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.


1. It is the duty of the people to pray for their ministers.

2. It makes prayer profitable to interest ourselves in the welfare of others by intercessions for them at a throne of grace.

3. The progress of the gospel depends much upon the prayers of the saints. (2 Thessalonians 3:1.)

II. THE SUBJECT OF THE PRAYER. It was that the apostle and Timothy and Epaphras might have abundant opportunity of preaching the gospel, as well as liberty, power, and success. The prayer implies:

1. That God can open a way for the gospel among the hearts of men. It was the Lord who opened Lydia's heart (Acts 16:14), and "opened the door of faith to the Gentiles" (Acts 14:27).

2. That God could liberate the apostle from prison as a condition of carrying on his apostolic work.

3. That the apostle's imprisonment was caused by his devotion to the "mystery of Christ," which was the admission of the Gentiles to salvation on equal terms with the Jews, or, in other words, "Christ in them the Hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). He would not have been in prison if he had been preaching a gospel with Judaic restrictions. His bonds were due to the strength of Jewish prejudices. But "the truth of the gospel" was so dear to him that he was content to suffer for it, and even to forego the opportunities of enlarged usefulness out of prison.

4. That he might be able to use his opportunities with boldness and success. People ought to pray that their ministers may be able to preach the Word with power (1 Thessalonians 5:5); with urgency (2 Timothy 4:2, 3, 5); with patience, constancy, and fear (1 Corinthians 4:9; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 4:8); with faithfulness (1 Corinthians 4:2); with zeal (2 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:12), - approving themselves in the sight of God to their hearers' consciences (2 Corinthians 2:17). - T.C.

Withal praying also for us that God would open unto us a door of utterance.
I. THE PERSONS FOR WHOM WE MUST PRAY. "For us," Paul, Timothy, etc.

1. Observe in general(1)That we ought to pray not for ourselves alone, but for others.(2) That roger a large heart in prayer, and perseverance in its practice, we must endeavour to help others by prayer.(3) That Christians should desire the prayers of others, as carnal men make use of their friends to get wealth, offices, etc.

2. Learn in particular(1) That the greatest in the Church need the prayers of the meanest.(2) That in hearing prayer God is no acceptor of persons. He is as willing to hear the Colossians' prayers for Paul as Paul's for the Colossians.(3) That Churches should pray for their own ministers.(4) That Christians should pray for all ministers. Paul does not desire their prayers for himself alone. Such a desire in some might evidence spiritual pride and envy.


1. That a door of utterance may be opened.(1) This comprehends —

(a)Liberty to preach the gospel.


(c)Preaching power.

(d)Courage to rebuke sin, and declare all God's counsel without fear of any man.

(e)Success: such utterance as will open the door into the heart.(2) Whence learn what makes a happy pastor: not wealth, popularity, etc., but liberty, etc. This taxes —

(a)Dumb ministers that utter nothing.

(b)Fantastical ministers who preach their own vanities, speaking only pleasing things.

(c)Idle ministers who preach not all God's counsels in season and out.

(d)Cold ministers.(3) Note the fact that Paul was in prison, yet he sought not liberty for himself, but for the gospel. Be thankful then for freedom in both senses, and labour to prevent those things which stop the mouths of God's ministers. These are —(a) Ignorance and sin in ministers themselves. Polluted lips are no lips for utterance. The lips of preachers should be touched with knowledge, zeal, and mortification.(b) The sins of the people (Ezekiel 3:24-27).(c) The violence of persecution (1 Corinthians 16:9; 1 Thessalonians 3:2).(d) Discouragement and fear (1 Corinthians 16:9, 12; Hebrews 13:17).(e) Human wisdom which destroys the profit of the hearer and the power of the preacher.

2. That God may open it.(1) The hearts of the best ministers are shut until God opens them and dispenses the gift.(2) 'Tis God only that opens to men the door of utterance. He "creates the fruit of the lips to be peace": "He opens and no man shuts." If He gives liberty who can restrain!

III. THE END FOR WHICH THE THINGS ARE ASKED. That the mystery of Christ may be manifested.

1. The mystery.(1) To whom is the gospel a mystery?

(a)To the Gentiles: that there should be a Saviour.

(b)To the Jews: that salvation should be in a carpenter's son.

(c)To the Papists: that He should be the only Saviour.

(d)To heretics: that He should be a Divine human Saviour.

(e)To the carnal man: that He should be a Saviour in particular to him.

(f)To the godly man: that He should be such a Saviour.(2) How is it a mystery? Because of the hiding of it —

(a)In the breast of God from all eternity.

(b)In the shadows and types of the ceremonial law.

(c)In the treasury of the Scriptures.

(d)In the person, obedience, and passion of Christ.

(e)In the hearts of Christians.(3) Why is it a mystery to wicked men? Through —

(a)The veil of their ignorance.

(b)Custom in sin and pleasure, etc.

(c)Judicial blindness.(4) Is it a mystery? Then it should teach us —(a) To esteem God's ministers as its dispensers (1 Corinthians 4:2).(b) To strive by all means to gain the open knowledge of this secret (Ephesians 1:8-9); but because every vessel is not meet to bear this measure we should get a pure conscience to carry this mystery of faith in (1 Timothy 3:9).(c) To account this the highest blessedness (Matthew 13:11).

2. Its manifestation: clear sound preaching.(1) It is not enough to preach, we must preach as becometh this mystery.

(a)With power (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

(b)With instance and all watchfulness (2 Timothy 4:2-5),

(c)With patience and constancy (1 Corinthians 4:9; 2 Corinthians 6:4).

(d)With assurance (2 Corinthians 4:13).

(e)With all willingness (1 Corinthians 9:16-17).

(f)With all faithfulness (1 Corinthians 4:2).

(g)With all zeal, knowing the terror of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:12).

(h)With all holy behaviour (1 Thessalonians 2:11).(2) The people must also hear, as becometh the mystery of Christ, with attention, patience, reverence, sincerity, hunger, and fruitfulness.

(N. Byfield.)

There is much criticism bestowed upon preachers, much of canvassing of their doctrines, much readiness in imagining that they are swerving from what is orthodox and sound, much complaining that they are not simple enough or too simple, not profound enough, or not practical enough, or not interesting enough, or not searching enough; but is there much of prayer that God would guide them into the knowledge of truth, and put into their mouths the messages most appropriate to the several classes of hearers? Indeed, we say not this in order to exculpate the minister, as though he were not himself answerable for erroneous or defective ministrations; but, probably, in most cases, the blame is at least to be divided, and as a general rule the parish or district which has derived least good from its pastor, is the parish or district which has offered the least prayer for its pastor. Whilst a congregation is murmuring that its teacher never seems to get beyond the first elements of truth, there is, perhaps, scarcely one of its members who makes it a point of conscience frequently to ask God to open to that teacher the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; whilst the pews are occupied with fears and suspicions that something unsound or even heretical has found way into the pulpit, there is hardly one of the hearers who offers his daily supplications that God would keep the instructor from being carried about by the winds of false doc trine. What marvel, then, if there is but little progress in spiritual things, and. the public ministrations of the Word seem instrumental to the converting and confirming but few? The hands even of Moses fell, when not sustained by Aaron and Ur; and even St. Paul leant on converts at Colossae, when hoping to be honoured in making converts at Rome.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

A once popular minister gradually lost his influence and congregation. The blame was laid entirely upon him. Some of his Church officials went to talk with him on the subject. He replied: "I am quite sensible of all you say, for I feel it to be true; and the reason of it is, I have lost my prayer-book." He explained: "Once my preaching was acceptable, many were edified by it, and numbers were added to the Church, which was then in a prosperous state. But we were then a praying people. Prayer was restrained, and the present condition of things followed. Let us return to the same means, and the same results may be expected." They acted upon this suggestion, and, in a short time, the minister was as popular as he had ever been, and the Church was again in a flourishing state. The great apostle felt the necessity of co-operative sympathy and prayer (Romans 15:30; 2 Thessalonians 3:1).

(G. Barlow.)

was a door for the Word to pass through (1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12). In the rush and press of thought the fettered gospel seems to be identified with the apostle "in bonds." The Word is a captive with him. They are to pray therefore that God would open before him a door that the imprisoned Word may pass through and speed onward (2 Timothy 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:1).

(Bishop Alexander.)

The door of utterance was closed and barred, as it were, upon the apostle by his imprisonment. It had previously remained open for a series of years (Romans 15:19). Now he was an ambassador in bonds. Thus, in every age of the Church, the door is at times shut to the dissemination of the gospel by the obstacles which the world and Satan raise; by the persecution and imprisonment or banishment of the faithful missionary or minister; by strong prejudices excited in men's minds, as in India years ago, so that they will allow no opening for the gospel; by a prevalent spirit of infidelity, as during the first French revolution; by a failure of means in religious societies; by heresies and tendencies to popery for a time prevailing; and by the rapid deaths of eminent missionaries and ministers. Then again the door is opened from time to time by the mercy of God; as when Paul was liberated from prison and allowed again to prosecute for a few years his evangelical labours; as, in other ages and places, when persecutions cease, and the civil magistrate protects the true religion; when the heathen and Mahommedan nations are placed under the sway, or brought into contact with Protestant Christian powers; when heresies and leanings towards popery are checked; when faithful men are raised up, qualified, and placed in important situations of service; when translations of the Scriptures are made and widely diffused; when kings and princes are touched with grace, and take an active interest in the spread of the gospel, as Frederick the Wise of Saxony, at the period of the Reformation, and when a spirit of inquiry, like that among the noble Berseans, is excited, to "search the Scriptures daily to see whether the things" brought to their knowledge are indeed so. But the door of utterance also includes God's giving scope to the preaching of the gospel by removing external hindrances; His granting to ministers by His Spirit suitable gifts and graces for discharging their office; and His vouchsafing by the same Spirit efficacy to their word that it may enter the hearts of the hearers. What a vast field of intercessory prayer is here presented!

(Bishop D. Wilson.)

St. Paul was an ambassador for Christ. According to the law of nations, there is a sacredness about the person of an ambassador, which is never violated unless by the desperate or the barbarous. Let one country send an ambassador to another, with the hope of adjusting points in litigation between the two, and though the proposed terms may be utterly repudiated, and nothing but a war of extermination will satisfy the people to whom the embassage is come, yet is the ambassador commonly treated with every marker respect; his office is a sufficient guarantee for his personal safety, and until he have been honourably dismissed and scrupulously escorted, no steps can be taken against the nation whose representative he is. And if in any case a different course is pursued — if the people ill-use the ambassador, depriving him of liberty, and yet more of life, there is an indignant exclamation throughout the civilized world; a hundred provinces are ready to make common cause with a nation so deeply injured in the person of its representative, and the tribe which has done the wrong is immediately as though placed under sentence of outlawry. Or, to take a more pertinent case. Suppose a revolt to have occurred in one of the provinces of an empire. The king is loth to proceed to extremities, and therefore sends an ambassador with proffers and reims of reconciliation. But the rebels, though they cannot disprove his credentials, nor doubt his authority, not satisfied with contemptuously rejecting his offers, cast him into prison and bind him with chains. Now, tell us, what a feeling of indignation would pervade a whole country, and how like a watchword, in which every class of the community joined, there would pass through the land the cry, "An ambassador in bonds!" "An ambassador in bonds!" — why, this is St. Paul's account of himself in the text. He is an ambassador of Christ to publish the gospel, "for which," says he, "I am in bonds." He gives the description without comment, as though sufficient by itself, and by its strangeness, to arrest the most unthinking.(

Prayer for ministers: — The Rev. Solomon Stoddard, the predecessor of the far-famed President Edwards, was engaged by his people on an emergency. They soon found themselves disappointed, for he gave no indications of a renewed and serious mind. In this difficulty their resource was prayer. They agreed to set apart a day for special fasting and prayer, in reference to their pastor. Many of the persons meeting for this purpose had necessarily to pass the door of the minister. Mr. Stoddard hailed a plain man whom he knew, and addressed him, "What is all this? What is doing to-day?" The reply was, "The people, sir, are all meeting to pray for your conversion." It sank into his heart. He exclaimed to himself, "Then it is time I prayed for myself!" He was not seen that day. He was seeking in solitude what they were asking in company; and, "while they were yet speaking," they were heard and answered. The pastor gave unquestionable evidence of the change; he laboured amongst a beloved and devoted people for nearly half a century, and was, for that period, deservedly ranked among the most able and useful of Christian ministers.

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