I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
This short verse is a telling one. First of all, it comes from Paul’s own hand. As was usual at that time, Paul would have dictated his letters to a scribe who would have been scratching away at the parchment. It was also common then to add a personal note at the end, something with added meaning because it comes from the author’s own hand. The handwriting may be less polished, but it carries a personal weight.
As the Colossians heard this - ancient letters like this were read out to a group - no doubt they leaned in to hear these parting words. It would not have taken long to hear them; it is only a few words: “Remember my chains. Grace be with you”.
What were they to make of the phrase: “remember my chains”? They would have been reminded of the tremendous cost of Paul’s ministry, and the danger which always clung close to his heels. His drive to preach the gospel of Christ was one which came with a high cost, and it was only the truth of his message which drove him on.
They would have been prompted to pray for his release. There is a tremendous bond of kinships which unites all Christians, and we should be moved by the plight of our brothers and sisters in Christ as they suffer in all parts of the globe. The church in this day faces great persecution in many countries, and martyrdoms abound. Oh how we should pray for those who worship with us, but under a great cloud of fear.
Paul then completes this short message by returning to the theme which marked his entire ministry: grace. Even when manacled, he can praise God for his goodness. Such is the depth of the grace of God that joy can survive these setbacks. Such is the goodnesses of God.