Assigned roles for the glory of God
The Apostle Paul starts out by complimenting a very dear friend by the name of Tychicus. He referred to him as a beloved brother, faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. Notice the order --- first Paul calls him a beloved brother. If we see our brothers and sisters in Christ as co - laborers in the Lord "First" then we have missed the point. The Apostle goes straight to Godly affection first and then acknowledges their work for Jesus Christ. I believe God matured Paul because he got really angry with Mark. When Paul and Mark were doing missionary work together the Apostle got very upset with him. There is no evidence that either one spoke to each other again on earth. It just goes to show you that even the very best servants of God disagree and lose their cool. Little by little the Holy Spirit shows us love and how to express Godly affection effectively in a righteous way.
Paul was obviously the leader because he was the one that sent this man (Tychicus) to the Colossians to understand their circumstances and comfort their hearts. Very few Christians will be able to empathize with our plight in life and then comfort our spirit. More than likely we will be able to count them on one hand. If the average believer in Jesus Christ does not make a connection with your life and walk with the Lord do not get upset because this role is only designed for a few in your journey down here. I have explained things to some of my brothers and sisters and they responded way out in left field. I often said to myself, "That is not at all what I said or was even trying to portray." Do not get angry because for the most part they probably mean well and like I originally said this role for your peace was only meant for a select number of Christians in our life. If we expect all of our brothers and sisters to understand us we will walk around angry / disillusioned or both most of the time. Very few will see and feel our pain. Then the brother or sister has to give you Godly advise because allowing your spirit closure in Jesus Christ is necessary because we do not want to walk around anxious or fearful. Do you think every Christian in our path even has the ability to accomplish this task for Jesus Christ on our behalf? Good luck on that pursuit.
The Apostle then talks about Onesimus and once again refers to him as a beloved brother but this time the leader is spoken of as one of you. This gets closer to home because this man knew their customs and ways. He was also to play the role of being a messenger of what Paul desired to tell them. Remember this culture did not have technology.
He wrote about Aristarchus who was a fellow prisoner. There is something special about two people that have to go through a persecution together because this is an understanding that can not be put into words. This brotherly fellowship is close in a Godly / friendship way not to even mention that the gospel usually expands in times of persecution. Epaphras felt lead by the Holy Spirit to fervently pray for many people and groups. He may have had a prayer ministry.
Paul talks about Marcus who played the role in reviewing the law of God to Christians. Did you ever notice we live in a world where people play their roles? Of course but that is also the way the kingdom of God is because redeemed saints and angels have a job to do for Jesus Christ. Justus was a servant of the Lord and in this context came alongside of Paul and was used by God to give the Apostle comfort. Epaphras was assigned by God to fervently pray for the Colossian church that they would stand perfect and complete in the will of God. This man had a zeal for the Colossians, Laodicea and the Christians in Hierapolis. If we have a zeal for a certain group of Christians and pray for them there is no telling what God will do because of our prayers. If we know someone who does not know the Lord once again there is no telling how God will work in his or her life. This man had a "Zeal" for who he was praying for and I believe his intercession moved mountains for Jesus Christ.
Luke and Demas played the role in greeting the Colossians. Nymphas offered his home to the people in the church so they could get together and fellowship in the name of Jesus Christ.
Paul had a passion to serve the Lord so of course he desired the letter of Colossians to be read in Laodicean not because "He" did the work but because he wanted as many Christians to be edified in the Person of Jesus Christ. Little did he know that centuries of Christians would be reading his Epistles. If he had his way he would have walked out of prison and traveled to other areas of the world to proclaim the gospel. If God let him do that where would we be as Christians today? We do not see our life, only God sees our path and the whole scope of time.
Paul also had some dealings with Archippus and just had a longing for this man to engage in the ministry that he was called to by God and desired him to understand that he (Paul) was with him in spirit. I can always tell when someone has this heart for me. It is rare but comforting.
In the last verse of Colossians the Apostle says goodbye. He asked if they would remember him in bonds (prison). It is good to remember and pray for the bars to be removed from our brothers and sisters life. You would be surprised at all the different types of prisons that a person is going through even as we converse at this very moment. Let me quote the original text so you can read the passage and perhaps make reference to it in this particular Bible study.
(7) "All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord: (8) Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts; (9) With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here. (10) Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye receive commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;) (11) And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me. (12) Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. (13) For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis. (14) Luke, the beloved physican, and Demas, greet you. (15) Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. (16) And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea. (17) And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it. (18) The salulation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen." Colossians 4: 7 - 18.
Tychicus was a messenger and because of him the Colossians received this epistle. This may have been a small job but it was big in the eyes of God. Of course the church wanted to know how Paul was doing because they took him away to prison. When we are faithful to God we become available for something else Jesus may have in mind for us in His kingdom.
If love is in the center of our hearts beauty and strength are added to our ministry for God. This fellowship was comforting because they really desired to hear from one another. We all do things out of duty sometimes / oftentimes but after a while we become short of heart. This is not good because it does not properly represent Jesus Christ.
Onesimus was converted at Rome probably when running away from his master's service. He might have been a poor and bad servant but after Paul converted him Jesus Christ changed his life from the inside to the out (conduct and behavior). Paul at that point called him a faithful and beloved brother. I know many Christians that had difficult circumstances and were very wicked before they got saved but now are a new creation in Jesus Christ. Hard times will still come in our path but we now have the indwelling power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Aristarchus was a fellow prisoner with Paul because they were serving Jesus Christ so both shared in the sufferings of our Lord and obviously had a very special bond with one another. If you see someone that went through a similar persecution that you went through you will recognize their spirit and be able to relate to them as people. This is an opportunity for a bond in Jesus Christ to be cultivated in the absorbing presence of the Holy Spirit.
Marcus sister son to Barnabas (Paul had a quarrel with him) so this may have been Paul's way of saying I have forgotten and forgave Barnabas and Mark in his heart. If we feel someone has offended us we should find it in our spirit to forgive because in this case I do not believe they ever saw each other again on earth. Do not walk around with a grudge.
Justus was a fellow servant and the Apostle had a very high appreciation for this labor and bond in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Epaphras was the one that picked up on a biblical truth that praying for your friends helps us stand perfect and complete in the will of God. This result will be for ourselves and others but for that to be a spiritual reality in our lives we must first have a zeal for them. This man prayed for many people.
Luke was a physician, a companion in service with Paul and he wrote the book of Luke and Acts. His writing style was very detailed and was very dedicated to Jesus Christ. He was martyred for his faith probably because he was very effective in getting out the gospel and helping his fellow Christians. He said after he spoke of Luke and Demas greet you but unfortunately this man did probably apostatize from the faith. "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed" ... 2 Timothy 4:10. The general trend that I am seeing in the church right now is apostasy. This is because we are living in the final moments before the return of Jesus Christ.
Paul desired the Laodiceans to also read this epistle because he wanted them to grow in Jesus Christ. I feel the same way because I want as many people to get saved through Jesus Christ and be strengthened in the Lord.
Nymphas had a house church and I am seeing many more of these in the world. I think this trend will grow much bigger.
Paul said say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry. Any assignment we have received from the Lord is an honor because we should accept this in the Person of Jesus Christ because it is by His appointment. If we know someone who has been called by God to do something encourage this person because he or she is going to get many downers in life. Individuals that are just negative and want to discourage the human being out of doing the work of the Lord. I know because a number of people tried to do this to me.
In verse eighteen which is the last verse in the book of Colossians Paul desires them to remember that he is in prison. It is always hard to be punished for the good that we do especially if it is for Jesus Christ. In the salutation of Paul he says grace be with you. There is nothing bad about the favor of God because it is all good. The grace of God through His Son Jesus Christ is with us and we have all received a portion of His love but the measurement is up to God on how much of the presence (grace / love) the Holy Spirit will bestow in our hearts. This is what I desire for anyone who has not accepted the Lord into their life. This grace is not available to you because Jesus Christ does not live inside your heart.
Now may be a good time to accept Jesus Christ into your heart as your very own personal Savior and Lord by repenting all your sins and inviting the Son of God into your life. I hope and pray you just made that eternal decision. If you made that decision walk with Jesus Christ all the time and listen to God on what He desires you to do for the kingdom of God. Engage in your role for the right reasons of glorifying God and helping other people come to know the Lamb of God who died for our sins.
What is equally important is to encourage Christians to keep abiding in Jesus Christ. I shared with you the example of Demas falling into the trap of loving this present world as a Christian. As a result he was no longer abiding in Jesus Christ and not serving the Lord. Perhaps he came back into fellowship with God but my point is encourage your brothers and sisters in the Lord to keep strong faith in Jesus Christ.
God Bless you,