Summary: Epaphras was little known to many, but precious and valuable to Paul. Our churches are filled with those who receive little recognition, but contribute much. We need their continued devotion and service.
Series: Serving in the Shadows # 3
An Encourager like Epaphras
Colossians 1:7-8; 4:12-13
Today we have read of another servant of the Lord who served in the shadow of the apostle Paul. Other than the verses we have read, Epaphras is only mentioned one other time in Scripture. Philemon 1:23 – There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus. Although we don’t have a wealth of information on him, Epaphras stands as an example to be admired in service for the Lord.
Most agree that Epaphras was likely the pastor of the church in Colossae, possibly even planting the church there. This would have been a difficult place to minister since Colossae was a Roman province, heavily influenced by the Roman culture. Colossae was situated 90 miles east of Ephesus and within the same fertile valley as Laodicea and Hierapolis. Colossae was only 12 miles from Laodicea, situated on the banks of the Lycus River. Colossae was the smallest of the three cities within the valley, but the main road from Ephesus to the Euphrates ran through Colossae. It would have hosted many travelers on their journey to and from Ephesus.
As we continue to consider those who served faithfully in the shadows, the contributions Epaphras made to the church cannot be ignored or minimized. He was not as well-known as Paul, but played an integral role in the advancement of the churches in Colossae and Laodicea. We need those like Epaphras among us today. Let’s examine the contributions he made as we consider: An Encourager like Epaphras.
I. The Dedication of Epaphras (1:7-8) – As Paul opens his letter to the Colossian church, he mentions their pastor, Epaphras. The name Epaphras means “lovely.” Paul appreciated the fellowship and support he received from Epaphras. We find Paul mentions:
A. His Cooperation (7a) – As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant. They both shared a common trait, they were fellow servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was a title that literally meant “a fellow bond slave.” Paul recognized that Epaphras possessed the qualities of a true servant, a willing slave to his Lord and Master.
We need those who possess those qualities. You don’t have to be a pastor to be a servant of the Lord. Few are willing to truly be a servant, one who is sold out and submissive to the Lord and the Master of their lives.
B. His Conviction (7b) – who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; Epaphras was a man of compassion and submission, but he was also a man of conviction. He was a man who preached the gospel without compromise. The idea conveyed here for a faithful minister is “one who executes the commands of the Master.” Epaphras didn’t waver in his allegiance to the Lord, even in adversity.
It is my heart’s desire to be a faithful minister. I want to carry out the Lord’s command at all cost. I want to be one who will preach the truth without compromise and stand firmly on the Word. You ought to desire that in your life as well. You may not be called to preach, but you can faithfully carry out that which the Lord desires of you. The modern church desperately needs those of conviction, those who will faithfully execute the commands of the Master without compromise!