“This salutation by my own hand—Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen.”—Colossians 4:18 (NKJV)
We now come to the closing verse of Paul’s epistle to the Colossians. Last words are often a distillation of someone’s heart, which is certainly the case here. Who was Paul? We get a good glimpse in these last few words.
This salutation by my own hand—Paul. Paul was someone who loved people. At this stage in his life, Paul required the assistance of a secretary to actually pen his thoughts. But despite this, Paul still wanted his readers to have a personal connection with him, so as we see here, Paul would personally pen the salutation. The words were few, but the heart behind the gesture was huge! It revealed the battle-scarred apostle wasn’t above the love for people that propelled him throughout his ministry career.
Remember my chains. Paul was someone who glorified God in his suffering. It’s easy to forget how hard Paul’s life was because of the supernatural joy that sustained him. Make no mistake, though, he was a man who had suffered more than most will ever know. Even as he wrote this epistle, he was chained in prison. But he wanted people to remember his suffering, not rescue him from it, because it was in his suffering that God was actually receiving greater glory by upholding him in his trials.
Grace be with you. Paul was someone who understood grace. After his meteoric rise among the religious ranks of the Jewish world, to the shattering realization that he’d committed the most heinous sins against God, Paul had to lean on grace in a most profound way. If you had killed people just for believing in Jesus, wouldn’t you wonder if this thing called “grace” would be enough? But Paul learned that grace is the great game changer in God’s purposes, which is why it’s the last blessing he bestows here.
Amen. Paul was someone who hoped. By saying “amen,” Paul was essentially saying, “I believe and agree with everything else in this letter.” A lot of this includes the heavenly side of life and the things that are awaiting final fulfillment. Yet there’s a confident and hopeful “amen” that God will bring all these truths to pass in His perfect timing.
These attributes of Paul should also be true of us. By the Spirit’s work in our lives, may we grow in our love for people, our bringing glory to God in our suffering, our understanding of grace, and our hope in the One who keeps His promises.
DIG: What do last words often indicate?
DISCOVER: How do Paul’s final words here relate to us?
DO: As we wrap up our study in Colossians, do some self-evaluation. Ask yourself, “How is my growth in these areas?” And how can my growth be strengthened?”