Hungarian painter Elmyr de Hory has become famous for painting high-quality forgeries. Over the course of his career, he forged works of Picasso, Matisse, Degas, and Modigliani. Around 1,000 of his forged paintings were sold to large art galleries all over the world. Once he was found out, his forgeries became appreciated as works of art in their own right. They now sell for over $20,000 apiece. Ironically, there are now con artists producing fake de Hory forgeries!
As was the common custom in those days, Paul used a scribe to write his letter to the Colossian church. A professional scribe would have neater handwriting and would conserve the costly papyrus the letter was written on. To show that the letter was authentic, Paul added a final greeting in his own hand, as he did for his other letters (see 1 Cor. 16:21; Gal. 6:11; 2 Thess. 3:17).
Paul’s final command to the church is poignant: “remember my chains” (v. 18). This abrupt sentence functions in two ways. As one commentator put it, Paul’s wanted to “hold up his manacled wrists to impress the readers with his authority as a suffering apostle.” This graphic image of Paul’s willingness to suffer imprisonment for the sake of the gospel was a measure of his commitment. More important though was his desire for the church to pray for him. Just as he had labored in prayer for the church, he was asking the same of them in return. In this way, they would support one another.
Paul’s final note is one of blessing, “Grace be with you.” In one sense, the entire letter has been about grace, the grace that God has shown to us through the work of Christ.
Paul’s experience of being in chains for the gospel is not unique in the history of the church. Thousands of brothers and sisters in Christ around the world suffer the same fate today. Remember these dear believers in prayer. You can pray for the persecuted church with information from such ministries as Voice of the Martyrs.