AN EXAMPLE TO FOLLOW—EPAPHRAS
Colossians 1:7-8; 4:12-13
There was a man in the early church about whom we know little except that he prayed. His name was Epaphras. We learn about him primarily from the book of Colossians, where Paul mentions him in the first and the fourth chapters, along with a quick reference in Philemon verse 23.
If anything tips us off to the character of Epaphras at the start it is a keyword that Paul uses twice to describe him: it is the word
servant. This word is a clue not only to why God chose to use this otherwise unknown man but also to why Paul chose to raise his visibility in the eyes of others by writing about him.
In Colossians 1:7 Paul calls Epaphras a “dear fellow servant.” The word “Dear” tells us He was beloved by Paul; “fellow” tells us
he wasn’t a loner but a participant in the kingdom activity, and “servant” tells us that he was willing to do anything he could for
the cause of Christ and to help his fellow-servant, Paul.
1. EPAPHRAS WAS A BELOVED FELLOW-WORKER
In Colossians 1:7 Paul describes Epaphras as his “dear fellow-servant”. There was a special reason for referring to him in this
way. At the time this epistle was written Epaphras was with Paul in prison, and he had visited Paul to seek his advice and counsel concerning errors that were creeping into the church at Colosse. But he did not only seek help, for, without doubt, but he also gave much help to Paul, comforting him and ministering to him in a number of different ways. What a great privilege it was for Epaphras to minister to God’s honored, suffering apostle, and how natural that Paul should feel a deep affection for Epaphras!
2. EPAPHRAS WAS A MAN OF PRAYER
Colossians 4:12 tells us this. We should all be men and women of prayer, though some may be specially called to a ministry of prayer, as Epaphras evidently was. Notice the two characteristics of his prayers:
1. It was PERSISTENT prayer – “always” Is not this where we so frequently fail? It is so easy to quit praying when our prayers are not immediately answered. We give up, instead of holding on.
2. It was AGONISING prayer – “wrestling” or, quite literally, “striving in an agony…” Here is the idea of intensity in prayer. Prayer is hard work.
3. EPAPHRAS WAS A TRUE MISSIONARY
This is clear from Colossians 4:13. This man had a deep concern, not only for the Christians at Colosse but also for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. May God give us all a true missionary vision! I am so thankful that Central has a missionary heart. Through the annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, we support missionaries around the world. God may have called us to go to the mission field, but He has called us to support those who have been called. Epaphras makes us realize we do not have to be famous in order to be used by God. Through him, we see how willing God is to use ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.