“This salutation by my own hand–Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen” (Colossians 4:18).
A first-century letter was often composed by a secretary known as an amanuensis. In such instances, a brief, handwritten portion near the end of a letter would help authenticate the author’s message. For Paul the Apostle, this represented more than just a personal touch; it also offered protection from those who might wish to circulate forged correspondence alleged to have been written by him (see 2 Thessalonians 2:1).
So as Paul closed this letter to the Colossian church, he offered one final request: “Remember my chains.” This represents the third time Paul has alluded to his prison bonds within this chapter, so it seems that the difficult reality of his imprisonment was weighing heavily upon him. While Paul was a man of great faith and trust in Christ, the words “remember my chains” help reveal the emotional pain he must have experienced during those periods of incarceration.
A pastoral commentator places this final request from the great Apostle into context as we close our look at this important Biblical letter…
“That word, ‘Remember my chains,’ was written two thousand years ago to people who have long since gone. Paul himself has been in glory all these centuries, and yet these words still have meaning for us.
It is well for us too to remember his chains, to think of this mighty apostle who was hounded, persecuted and oppressed everywhere he went. He was resisted and thrown into jail in many places. He spent a night and a day in the deep. He was beaten with rods and stoned on occasion. Even as he writes these letters he does not find it easy to do so. He does not sit down in a comfortable room with his word processor. He must dictate them to an educated slave, and then painfully, because he suffered from poor eyesight, write with large letters his name at the close, lest the letter be treated as a forgery.
Down through the centuries this letter, along with others, has transformed the history of the world. It is a tremendously important document. Yet it is well for us to remember the cost of having these scriptures in our own hands. ‘Remember my chains.’ Let us give thanks for this apostle who kept the Lord always at the center of his thoughts. Heedless of obstacles, he fulfilled his own ministry faithfully before the Lord. What a model he is to us!” (1)
(1) Excerpted with permission from The Early-Day Saints © 1987 by Ray Stedman Ministries. All rights reserved. Visit www.RayStedman.org for the complete library of Ray Stedman material. Please direct any questions to webmaster@RayStedman.org