Every one of us, whether a Christian or not are examples to someone. This could be a good or a bad example. This evident in the Word of God. We are given accounts of the good and the bad example. The Word of God promotes godly examples for us to emulate.
Throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, we are presented with many character studies. They come from all walks of life just as the writers of the Word. They come from large and small cities; they come from familiar and obscure places. I want to enter our thoughts today on a city in the New Testament that was not as prominent as some. It is mentioned in just 2 books; that being Paul’s letter to Colossians and his epistle to Philemon. I want to write about two men: Epaphras and Archippus.
They are mentioned in Colossians and in Philemon. More is said about about Epaphras. Colossae was located in Asia Minor, modern day Turkey. It appears that Paul did not visit this city but that some from there came in contact with his teachings and took them back to their home city. One of the 7 Churches of Revelation, Laodicia, is mentioned in Colossians, along with Hieropolis as being nearby.
Paul is very faithful in commending his co-workers. In writing to the Colossian Church in Col. 1:7-8 and Col. 4:12-14 he mentions Epaphras. It appears that he was one of the men who brought the Gospel to Colossae. Both he and Philemon may have came in contact with Paul when he preached “nearby.”
Even a casual reading of the text will give the reader an insight into the character of Epaphras. Paul uses terminology that we all would like to be described by. Paul calls him a dear fellow servant and a faithful minister in Col. 1:7-8. He is mentioned as one who loved his fellow believers. He is called a servant.
Paul uses a term in Col. 4:12 that should describe all Christians, that of a bond servant. This describes one who serves his master willingly and faithfully. We see Epaphras described as a man of prayer. He is genuinely concerned with the spiritual well being of his fellow believers and is described as laboring fervently for them. His motivation is that they would be made complete in the Lord and stand for Him. He puts into practice the admonition of Paul in 2 Tim. 3:16-18 where faithfully preaching and teaching the Word of God will lead believers to be equipped for service to the Lord Jesus. Col. 4:13 shows that he didn’t just center his efforts in his hometown but was willing to share the Word with those in Laodicea and in Hieropolis. May we ever be thankful for this faithful brother.
The other one mentioned in Colossians and in Philemon was a man named Archippus. He is mentioned in Col. 4:17 as well as in Philemon 2. It appears he was the son of Philemon and was faithful in preaching and teaching in the church that met in Philemon’s home. Paul reminds him that he received his ministry from the Lord Jesus. He is called a fellow soldier in Philemon 2. All Christians are in the Lord’s Army. We must take up the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20) if we are going to be equipped for battle. Let’s look back the example of Archippus as we strive to serve together under the authority of the Lord Jesus and help reach the lost and lead them out of the kingdom of darkness in the kingdom of the Son of His love (Col. 1:14-16).
-Larry Miles, Nov. 16, 2011