Today I was sitting in Panera Bread preparing for a discipleship meeting, when I read the following verses:
“You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.” -Colossians 1:7-8
I was like “HOLD ON a second, who is Epaphras?!” I am no theologian, but I have read the Bible a time or two and this name has never stuck out to me. I did a quick search on blueletterbible.com and learned that my new friend was listed a total of three times in the New Testament. The first reference is above, and the second two below:
“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.” -Colossians 4:12
“Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you” Philemon 1:23
That’s it. That’s all that is said about him. However, based on these verses, we learn soooo much about a faithful disciple of Jesus. Here’s what we can gather about Epaphras:
- He taught the people at the church of Colossae. He taught them, according to the text leading up to Colossians 1:7-8:
- The word of truth
- The gospel
- Understanding of the grace of God
- He was a faithful minister of Christ
- His ministry is on behalf of the people in the church of Colossae
- He relayed the love the people had in the Spirit to the apostle Paul
- He identified as a servant of Christ Jesus
- He prays to God
- He struggles in prayer – on behalf of his people – always!
- He prays for their maturity
- He prays for assurance in the will of God
- He has worked hard for the people at Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis
- He co-labored with Paul
- He was imprisoned with Paul for the sake of Christ
We don’t know the rest of his story – who or how he was arrested and imprisoned, if he died in prison, or if he was released and continued his ministry. We don’t know anything else about him. We don’t know how he got saved, or what the circumstances were leading up to his ministry. What we do know, based on the Bible, is that this is an unsung hero of the faith. He doesn’t get the fame that Paul has (rightly) received, but he is a faithful, humble hero. He preached the gospel. He built up the church. He labored in prayer. He loved his people. He loved Jesus.
As I sat in Panera today with Hurricane Harvey roaring outside, and the electricity flickering off and on, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for faithful people like Epaphras. Because of people like him, faithfully carrying out the message of Jesus, I, thousands of years later, know Jesus. He is not famous, but he was faithful to the ministry God called him to.
There are tons of people just like Epaphras who we don’t know names of, but who have been faithful disciples of Jesus, and have passed his name on to generations behind them. I want to be like Epaphras; there’s not much said about him, but what we do know is that he loved Jesus, and that legacy is continuing to live on. We are reaping the benefits of his faith. That is so encouraging. The only legacy that will last is one of passing on Jesus, through discipleship, laboring over one another in prayer, for the glory of God. That is my greatest hope for my life. Thank you, Epaphras, for being a great example.
Until next time,