“Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.
My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea. Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.” I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.” (Colossians 4:7–18 NIV11-GKE)
The friend that everyone wants to have.
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24 NIV)
Who is your real friend? I believe that we live in a paradoxical society. We can have many so-called friends on social media and yet be very alone. Good friends are found to have, and it is a real blessing when we see them.
I believe that this verse is pure gold a good friend sticks closer than a brother! We don’t choose our families, but we can choose our friends!
There are many examples of great friendship in the Bible, and the most well-known is David and Jonathan.
David and Jonathan were like brothers. They honoured each other, fought armies together, and looked after each other.
Humans are conditioned or created for relationships – Man and Woman, God and Man.
In the first pages of creation, we even read God’s deep relationship with Adam. Now, God does not need friendship, but we do! “In the fantastic evening, God was walking in the garden looking for the friend he created.
The reality is: We need one another!
One of the reasons, I believe, that we have a community called church is that in this place where we have a faith that unites us, it is the best place to form good friendships.
So, what qualities does the Lord want to see in our friendship?
Paul can give us the answer to this!!
Paul is writing this letter to the Colossians and Laodicea, surrounded by a group of trusted friends. Paul’s ministry was not a long ranger ministry! Meaning that he did what he wanted without accountability. Yet, Paul was a leader, an apostle and a great preacher and evangelist. Yet his ministry was successful because he gathered a group of men and women to serve the Lord.
Now, I want to distinguish and clarify some, perhaps, some misunderstandings.
If you read the life of Paul, you may conclude that he was singled minded, with a strong personality, and you know that is right! Yet, in his preaching and evangelism, he gathered a group of men and women who became so in love with the Lord, a group that understood that they were serving the Lord by serving the Gospel and helping Paul in God’s mission.
Now, the Lord Jesus is who has given the fivefold ministries in the Church. A sound biblical leadership should have these leaders Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers. “To prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”
Paul is not using these people to reach his mission. Paul is truthful to his calling and gifting as Jesus called him. “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:11–14 ESV)
When you read Paul’s apostolic journeys in the book of Acts, you will realise that when Paul planted churches, he was not alone. He started with Barnabas. Yet, in every church he planted, he raised a group of leaders, called elders, presbyterous, hence the word Presbyterians!
He was an evangelist, prophet, pastor, and teacher and here in Colossians, a church that he did not plant, we find a group of men who have been taught by Paul and travelled with Paul. These men understood the very essence of the Gospel and how to live by the Gospel. He now is sending this group of men to bless the churches he and others planted under his blessing and care. You can only read what he says about them to realise the impact of the Gospel that Paul preached and taught in the lives of these men.
Tychicus, Onesimus (the enslaved person, Philemon), Aristarchus, Mark, Justus, Epaphras, Luke and Demas. They became Paul’s companions, co-workers and friends, especially Luke.
This group of men became brothers with a solid bond of friendship and love for one another and a LOVE FOR JESUS.
What does the Love for Jesus mean in a friendship born in Christ?
In Paul’s own words, he describes them as Faithful Ministers and Fellow Servants – to Aristarchus and Mark, he calls them my fellow prisoner! Paul says they are my CO-WORKERS FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD!
If this is true in the natural, it is true in the Spiritual.
I can think of more than two friends that we became like brothers, we shared, and we are sharing life for the Kingdom of God. People that love you and they are not afraid to tell you the truth in love. Going with my friends to psych fairs adventures!!
Paul’s plan is the Kingdom of God.
It is not Paul’s plan. It is not the plan of PCI but the Kingdom of God! The whole of this letter is about the Kingdom of God:
• It began with Paul gathering a group of men and women, people that he taught in Ephesus for two years.
• It began with someone called Epaphras, who heard the call of God and obeyed and planted this church.
• A church that grew because of the preached Gospel shared and lived.
• A church that was known for its love of the Holy Spirit.
• A place now where you can encounter the living Christ.
• A place where the sound doctrine was taught and preached: Christ Supremacy overall.
• A place where they became aware that the fullness of Christ lives in them!
• It is a place where they learn to love each other, pray for each other, and care for each other.
• A community called a church that was aware of false teachings and how they could stand against hollow philosophies.
• A place where they worship.
• A place where what was taught and preached was practised at home and work.
• A Place where people prayed
• A place where people expect to see God at work.
• The Colossian Church was not a megachurch, and it was not a trendy place! The city itself lost its influence. Yet even now, we are inspired and influenced by what the Lord did in this small community.
• A place where people found Jesus Christ regardless of their past, accents, traditions, religion and ethnicity.
Paul said this group of trusted friends were co-workers, but they were also a catalyst in transforming the world! They sought and fought for the kingdom of God to be established, manifested and alive! Faithfulness to Christ and ministers of the Gospel, a brotherhood – a sisterhood of servants! That is the best description of Jesus in us.
We can all be faithful in Christ, and we can all be ministers. We can all be servants and treat one another as brothers.
You are needed here to become people who can transform people!
To lead others to Christ
To become the Christ to other people
A people who expect the manifestation of God’s presence.
A people who are not afraid of the Holy Spirit
A people that expect God to move.
Why? “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” (Colossians 2:9–10 ESV)
“Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realise the fullness of Christ and the emptiness of the universe without him. That fullness comes together for you when you come to him, too. His power extends over everything.”
(Colossians 2:9–10 MESSAGE)
What are the marks of true friendship in the Lord?
This is where we look at Epaphras!
In Epaphras, we see someone who knew who he was in Christ, and Paul saw this in him; therefore, Paul shares something extraordinary about this man that I believe is good to learn.
Remember, he was not an apostle but an evangelist at heart.
Let us go back to chapter one, and this is what Paul says about him:
“Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. 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 1:4–8 ESV)
The Church in Colossae was planted by Epaphras and not by Paul.
The Gospel is reaching Colossae, and the Gospel is spreading through this community and beyond.
Epaphras. The Word of truth, the Gospel, which is bearing fruit and increasing in the church, and those who understood the grace of God were because of the work of one man. Paul calls him a Fellow servant, a faithful minister of Christ, and a man full of the Spirit of God.
Now at the end of his letter, Paul refers to Epaphras with these words
“Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.” (Colossians 4:12–13 NIV11-GKE)
He is a servant of Jesus
He is a man who prays for his friends and community
He is standing firm in the faith and the will of God
He is mature and assured of who he is in Christ.
He works hard.
Epaphras is the friend that everyone wants!!
I would have loved to have a friend like him. Fearless, someone who can inspire you to reach higher and go deeper in your pursuit of Christ and his Kingdom!