Epaphras the Bond Servant Leader

Journeying through Colossians

“Of this, you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.” (Colossians 1:5–8 ESV)

“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.” (Colossians 4:12–13 ESV)

Who is Epaphras?

The Colossian Church was not planted by Paul but by Epaphras. He gave Paul all the information regarding what was happening at Colossae. And how the Gospel has impacted the people living there.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church when he was in prison, and he was in Rome.
Colossae was one of the most important cities in that Province of Asia, but its influence was in decline when Paul wrote this letter.

Epaphras brought the Christian Gospel to that city. Epaphras is a native of the City of Colossae. And it is probably where he first met Paul and heard the Gospel during Paul’s stay in Ephesus. He became a follower of Christ during Paul’s ministry. See Acts 19:8-10. It could be that Epaphras was part of the discipleship training course that last it for two years v.9-10, and it could be that this group of believers were the ones that took the Gospel to other villages and towns.

Beloved fellow.

In the New Testament, “beloved” is used exclusively of Divine and Christian love and affection in the community of the new spiritual life in Christ, e.g. “beloved in the Lord” (Rom 16:8).

The beauty, unity, endearment of this love is historically unique, being peculiarly Christian. “Brethren” in Christ are “beloved” (1 Thess 1:4; 1 Cor 15:58; Jas 1:16; 2:5).
Many individuals are specified by name: Timothy (2 Tim 1:2); Philemon (Philem 1:1); Amplias, Urbane, Stachys, Persis (Rom 16:8,9,12), etc. Paul terms “God’s elect” “holy and beloved” (Col 3:12).
The term rises to Diviner significance as an epithet of Christ, whom Paul, grateful for His “freely bestowed” grace. This is the word used repeatedly to express God the Father’s infinite affection for Jesus, His “beloved Son” (Mt 3:17; 12:18; 17:5; Mk 1:11; 9:7; Lk 3:22; 20:13).

It is beloved fellow, means more than being part of a big family and brothers with a purpose, fellow worker, partner.

It is his identity!

Bondservant

This statement appears only in this letter. However, for the Greek audience, the comparison or metaphor with being a slave was essentially negative. Hence, the classical assumption of a natural order of slaves, where the citizen class were ‘humans’ and slaves were not.
Within the Jews thought there is a sharp distinction; the slaves were subject to a Sabbath-year. And there are several laws regarding this subject.

But does Paul mean?
By using the qualification Bond servant-slave, Paul was in relation to hand over one’s life to a master Jesus Christ whose power, authority was more significant than in any other master-salve relationship.
Paul uses a similar idea in 1Cor. 7:21-23

“Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.”
(1Corinthians 7:21-23 NIV)

Writing in the context of marriage and slavery, Paul in v. 23 states that the Corinthians are free, and yet we are Christ slaves, bought with a price. Our ultimate alliance is with Christ. Col. 1:20 the blood.

Paul uses a similar language regarding the condition of the soul, the slavery of sin and the freedom of life with Christ and His Spirit.
“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (Romans 6:18 NIV)

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:22-23 NIV)

Servant. The root meaning of the word comes from “waiter serving a table”. Therefore, the image of the slave/servant denotes an obligation to offer humble service to a superior master, in this case, Christ. Jesus taught this principle in the Gospel see Mark 10:41-45.

He is a faithful minister.

“Of this, you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.” (Colossians 1:5–8 ESV)

It seems that this sentence ‘Faithful Minister’ will be descriptive of an individual sustaining commitment to Christ.

But it seems to suggest that it has a priestly overtone.
Paul said that as he was made a ‘minister’ in (1:23,25) so it was with Epaphras, he preached the Word of God to the Colossians on behalf of Christ.
If we must give a small summary of Epaphras’ life would be this:

Here is a man who does not concern himself with fame. Instead, he is a humble man, full of Christ and a servant of Christ willing to serve Christ and his Church.

Look at what he has done: “Of this, you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.” (Colossians 1:5–8 ESV)

He is an evangelist
He is a teacher
He leads people in the Spirit

He is a Fellow Prisoner of Christ.

This is another characteristic of the commitment of Epaphras’ to the cause of Christ and Christ Kingdom.
This is what Paul writes to Philemon says about him; listen to this.

“Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings.” Philemon 1:23 NIV)

It could be that Paul meant these words literally or metaphorically.
He visited Paul in prison, and he was imprisoned because he was a follower of Christ. he understood his place as a servant, a slave of Christ, and now willing to suffer persecution and suffering.

This is the mark of a disciple and a leader who is willing to suffer for Christ.

Epaphras was willing to suffer for the sake of Christ.

Man of Prayer

“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.” (Colossians 4:12–13 ESV)

Now we need to be careful here that we don’t miss the picture. This is not a man who prays occasionally or comes to the prayer meetings now and again. Instead, we have here Paul describing a man fully committed to prayer—systematically exercising that right that we have been given by Jesus Christ to ask the Father, the Almighty God, in Prayer.

Here we have a man who is willing, as a good soldier, to enter a real Battle. He knows that prayer is a weapon against the forces of evil, and it is the only weapon capable to open heaven’s gate.

He prays for the cities, neighbourhoods, for the people he is in contact with and for those who do not know Christ. He is precise about what he prays: To make God’s People solid and perfect in the Lord and that they will understand and be confident of the purpose of God, God’s will.

What does he pray for? that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.

A man who loves the Church’s mission

“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.” (Colossians 4:12–13 ESV)

You can see that in Colossians 4:13 as Paul describes Epaphras’ heart to reach out to the towns near Colossae.
I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.

“I can assure you that he has agonised for you and for the Christians in Laodicea and Hierapolis. – NLT”
“For I bear him witness that he has a
great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis. – NKJV”

He is a man with a passion for the Church.

If you change a church leader, you change a church. If you change a church, you can change a community, and if you change enough churches in that community, you can change a region, a nation, and eventually the world. B. Hybels

Working hard: Never giving up

Has agonized: Suffering for Christ

Great zeal: Anointing of God’s power

Blog Morning @First

darioleal View All →

Dario is a husband, father, pastor and passionate pursuer of Jesus and His Kingdom. He is a Pastor, loyal friend, and walks the walk when it comes to being a carrier of God’s presence. He expects things to happen when he prays for people. He loves having fun and eating olives (preferably at the same time).

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