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Summary: Epaphras is mentioned three times in the Bible. Yet his life of service is what every minister of God should emulate.

“12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis.” Colossians 4:12-13.

Some biblical personalities are well known. Others enter the scene briefly and are gone. Similar to a movie extra, there's little known about them. But everyone has a story! Epaphras was a man with an inspiring story.

The name Epaphras means, "lovely, charming, and handsome" He was a native of Colossae. After his conversion to Christianity, he took the Gospel to his hometown. Epaphras was very instrumental in the establishment of the churches at Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. These three cities made up the ancient Lycos Valley in modern-day Turkey. Epaphras was the person responsible for the growth of Christianity in these cities. After a while, the churches were threatened by the danger of false doctrine. So Epaphras sought godly counsel. He set out to visit Paul, who at that time was a prisoner in Rome. Eventually, he became Paul’s fellow prisoner. Philemon 23. Yet he never stopped laboring for the churches at Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colossae. Epaphras cared for the believers in those cities and expressed that concern by doing something about it. Even though he was not physically with them, he was spiritually there. Epaphras prayed on their behalf. In his letter to the Colossians addressing false doctrine impeding the growth of the churches, Apostle Paul bears witness to it that even in the prison, Epaphras never stopped praying for the church. Colossians 4:13.

So, what can church leaders, ministers, deacons, and workers learn from Epaphras?

EVERY CHRISTIAN IS A MINISTER:

"as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf," Colossians 1:7.

Paul describes him as a fellow servant and a faithful minister of Christ. A minister is anyone who serves or ministers to the needs of others. So every believer is a minister. Each of us has been given skills, resources, abilities, time, and opportunities to serve. Every Christian is called to be a faithful steward. None is called to spectate. Every member of the local church has a significant part to play. We all have an assigned role in the Body of Christ. Every believer has a unique contribution to make. Romans 12:4-5. Therefore, we must strive to use well the gifts we've received from God. The church must encourage members to become ministers. The job of pastors is to equip, prepare, and train the believers, so they can learn to function in their ministries.

Are you serving or ministering in the local church? Are you faithful in fulfilling the responsibility God has given you? If not, make up your mind today to serve. God has equipped you for ministry. Get involved. There's a place for you! You may not be called to preach behind a pulpit. But you are called to serve. Be humble. True greatness begins with humility. Be holy. The presence of sin in the life of a minister is a stain. Psalm 66:18. Avoid sin. Be sober, and disciplined. Read to know the Word. Be a student of the Bible. Abide in the Word. Don't be judgmental; the love of Christ must be your motivation. Don't give up! Be teachable. Be available. Be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Lean on Him and He will equip you to fulfill the very task He has called you to complete. As you serve, trust that God will equip you, guide you, and give you joy for the work.

"As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." 1 Peter 4:10.

MAKE DISCIPLE:

"as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf," Colossians 1:7.

The word "disciple" means a learner. In other words, we can say the church at Colossae learned from Epaphras. He was faithful in making disciples. Also, believers are to make learners or disciples of Christ. A disciple is a follower. They listen, learn, and follow the Master. Following Jesus means that you show others how to follow Him. Every Christian is supposed to disciple others. Being a disciple requires making disciples. To be a disciple is to become a student of Jesus Christ. True discipleship involves investing in younger believers, walking through life with them, and guiding them to Christian maturity. The command to “make disciples” was given to the first set of disciples. Matthew 28:19-20. But they are long dead. Before they left this world, they passed the baton down to the next generation of disciples and the next. Today we hold the baton. What are you going to do with it? God’s desire is for us to go and make disciples. Every church should major in discipleship.

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