In Paul’s salutations at the end of his epistle to the Colossians, we find some interesting tidbits in the things he wrote to those he mentioned. He mentioned:
Epaphras, a servant of Christ – Col 4:12-13 – Epaphras is also mentioned in Phm 23 as a fellow prisoner, in Col 1:7 as a fellow servant, and a faithful minister, and he was zealous, Titus 2:14. As a servant of Christ, he was a fellow servant of Paul, and Paul wasn’t always easy to work with. As Paul’s fellow prisoner, he probably spent some time in jail with him. He was a faithful minister to the people in the church to whom he ministered. His greatest work was done on his knees. He prayed always, as in Lk18:1, and he labored fervently in prayers, as in Jas 5:16. He prayed specifically that they would:
- Stand perfect in all the will of God. They were just the right fit for the thing God had called them to do. They were perfectly suited for the work, as in perfect for the job. He wanted them to stand, Eph 6:10-18.
- Stand complete in all the will of God. As such, they would have no deficiency in doing the will of God, getting the whole job finished. See 1 Cor 15:58.
Them that are in Laodicea – Col 4:13-16 – they were “brethren,” and there was a “church of the Laodiceans.” When we overlay church history with the letters to the seven churches in Rev 2 and 3, Laodicea is the last stage of the church age. Dr. Ruckman commented that the placement of Colossians before 1 Thessalonians is consistent with the Laodicean church coming right before the Rapture. Thus, the warnings in this epistle are particularly important in this generation. See Col 2:8, for instance.
Luke, the beloved physician – Col 4:14 – be careful with refusing help from doctors, and from attorneys for that matter, Titus 3:13. When you’re sick you need a doctor, Matt 9:12. But when you go to the doctor, remember to pray, 2 Chr 16:12. Understand that the procedures may be expensive and you might not get well, Mk 5:26. Even Paul, who was a great healer, recommended a medicinal remedy to Timothy, 1 Tim 5:23. Luke, his physician, was with him to end, 2 Tim 4:11. He was beloved. I am reminded that doctors and nurses are often given special recognition in obituaries by family members who appreciate all their medical help for their loved ones.
Demas – Col 4:14 – Nothing special is said of him. He’s like the Laodiceans of Rev 3:16-17. He falls in love with the world. At the exact time he needed to stand with Paul, 2 Tim 4:10, he bailed out. The typical problem of this age is love for the world. Demas typifies the worldly Christians of the Laodicean age. Those who love the world are the enemies of God, Jas 4:4.
Nymphas – Col 4:15 – “and the church which is in his house.” House churches are still a very viable thing these days, particularly on certain mission fields, like India and Thailand, for example. Notice that a church doesn’t have to be big to be mentioned in God’s book for eternity. This greeting to Nymphas reminds me of Jesus pointing out to his disciples the widow who cast in two mites. Small things are a big deal to God.
Archippus – Col 4:17 – he was given three warnings:
- Take heed to the ministry. There are many things that can cause us to go into apostasy in this age of falling away, 2 Thes 2:3. Preachers can quit believing the Bible and quit obeying its authority. Churches can adapt their music to the world. Preachers can quit preaching and teaching sound doctrine, 2 Tim 4:3-4. And people can succumb to worldliness.
- Which thou hast received in the Lord. It’s not your ministry. We say of some ministries, “Too much man, not enough God.” Don’t let that happen.
- That thou fulfill it. Like Paul, we must fight a good fight (the enemy is still here), finish our course, and keep the faith, 2 Tim 4:7.
Conclusion: be a good servant of Jesus Christ, like Epaphras, faithfully working with those with whom God puts you and enduring the hardships of the ministry. Don’t fall for the world like Demas did. Be ready for God to use you and your house if he wants to plant a church in a field like Nymphas did. And if you are already in the ministry, fulfill it.