Colossians 4:1-4

These small group studies of Colossians contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Colossians 4:1-4 Inductive Bible Study

Title: Be Devoted in Prayer

Summary– Masters, treat your slaves fairly, as you want your heavenly Master to treat you. Be devoted in prayer, with thanksgiving, not only for myself, but for others in the faith; that they may take advantage of opportunities to speak the gospel, and be able to speak it out clearly.

Central Teaching– Prayer with thanksgiving is the key ingredient in evangelism, and indeed in every aspect of Christian life.

Key Words– Masters, justly and fairly, steadfastly, prayer, thanksgiving, open door, word, mystery, clear

Key Verse– 4:2

Ten Things this Passage Says-

1. Masters are to treat their bondslaves justly and fairly.

2. We have a Master in heaven.

3. We are to “continue” steadfastly in prayer, meaning that it should be a lifestyle.

4. We are to be watchful as we pray.

5. We should pray with an attitude of thanksgiving.

6. I should pray faithfully for fellow Christians and workers.

7. God is the one who opens doors for the word, but we must pray for that.

8. We are to declare the mystery of Christ.

9. Paul was imprisoned because of His preaching of the word.

10. When I speak out His word, it should be clear.

Ten Things this Passage does NOT Say-

1. Masters can treat their slaves however they want, because they have power over them.

2. Masters are accountable to no one, and their actions are without consequences.

3. We should only pray when we really need something.

4. When we pray, we can’t know if it will do any good, or if Christ will answer it in the right way or not.

5. As long as the prayers get answered, it doesn’t matter if we take any notice of how God answers them.

6. Our attitude in prayer doesn’t matter, as long as I pray.

7. It’s okay to only focus prayers on myself.

8. Pray for results, not opportunities.

9. We shouldn’t have to suffer for teaching the word or otherwise doing the right thing.

10. It’s acceptable to teach in a vague, careful way, just so we can stay safe.

What does this passage teach me about God?

He is a just and fair Master.

Fervent, thankful prayer is an effective way of communicating with Him.

He answers prayer.

He opens doors for the gospel.

He doesn’t promise a life of ease for those who are serving Him.

He makes clear the way we ought to speak.

What does this passage say about man?

Masters tend to be unfair and unjust…harsh.

We might tend to be sporadic in our prayers, and not have enough faith to be watching for Him to answer them.

We often pray demanding things, without giving thanks for what we have.

God opens the doors; we are to walk through them boldly.

The way we ought to speak is clear.

How does this passage apply to my life?

In any situation when I’m in charge of others, do my best to be just and fair to them. Don’t ask them to do anything I wouldn’t personally be willing to do myself, listen to their suggestions and complaints, make wise decisions, and don’t forget to give credit and praise when it’s due. (V1)

When I’m praying, be specific and be looking for the answers that God gives. (V2)

Don’t forget to give thanks, even for difficult situations, when praying. (V2)

I often pray that God would help me to wisely utilize the doors that are opened to me now. Don’t forget to pray for Him to open more doors for ministry. (V3)

Speak clearly. Know what God’s word says, and be able to articulate it well. (V4)

Discussion Questions-

Who would be the modern day masters? (V1)

How can employers be just and fair to their employees? (V1)

How might employers not be just and fair to their employees? (V1)

Why should employers be just and fair to their employees? (V1)

How does our Master in heaven treat us? (V1)

How should we pray? What does it mean to be “devoted in prayer”? (V2) In Greek, “devote” means “to be courageously persistent” or “to hold fast and not let go” and refers here to persistent prayer.

What does it mean to “keep alert” in prayer? (V2) In its most general sense this means to stay awake while praying. But Paul has in mind the broader implication of staying alert for specific needs about which to pray, rather than being vague and unfocused. I think that it also means we should be alert to answers to our prayers. Don’t pray and forget about it…watch to see how God answers.

With what attitude should we pray? What does that mean? (V2)

How might the “keeping alert” and the “attitude of thanksgiving” tie together? (V2)

According to this verse, what is one thing we should be sure to pray for? (V3)

If God opens a door for the word, what is our responsibility in that? Who should take advantage of this responsibility? (V3)

Why is it called the “mystery of Christ”? (V3) This refers to truth, hidden until now, but revealed for the first time to the saints in the NT. Such truth includes the mystery of the incarnate God, Israel’s unbelief, lawlessness, the unity of Jew and Gentile made one in the church, and the rapture of the church.

What are the possible consequences of speaking forth the word? What are the eternal consequences of speaking forth the word? (V3)

What does this verse say about how a Christian should speak? (V4)

According to this verse, is this pattern of speech a suggestion or a command? (V4)

Looking at the context of these verses, what is this way that we have been commanded to speak? (V4)

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