Thanksgiving for Gospel Partnerships
Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, 9 and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.
10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him), 11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. 12 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. 13 For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. 14 Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”
18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
There are some characters in Scripture that we become so familiar with that they almost become like dear friends. Spend some time in Acts and I’m confident you’ll come away wishing you could hang out with a guy like Barnabas, or sit at the river and pray alongside Lydia. Other names come and go like a flash with little-to-no explanation or character development but are included simply because these are historical events and they happened to actually be present. At the end of the book of Colossians the Lord points our attention through Paul’s pen to no less than ten individuals who range from well-known gospel writers to those whom we know nearly nothing else about. Under inspiration, their inclusion is always purposeful and that is no less true here. Consider what Paul says about these friends of the church….
Tychicus: Beloved Brother and Faithful Servant who encourages the church by sharing news that keeps them connected with the lives other believers.
Onesimus: Runaway slave who was converted after meeting Paul and now heads home to Colossae to make amends with his former owner and now brother Philemon in whose home the Colossian church meets (See Philemon 1-2).
Aristarchus: Served prison time alongside Paul for his faith
John Mark: Barabbas’s cousin and former travelling companion who abandoned the work previously causing a split between Barnabas and Paul. He is now welcomed, profitable, and used to record one of the four gospels.
Justus: He and John-Mark were the only Jews to accompany Paul, and a personal encouragement to him.
Epaphras: Likely the founder and possibly the primary elder of the Colossian church, Epaphras faithful labors in prayer for their maturity and confidence that comes from God’s word.
Luke: A doctor, and the author of the gospel that bears his name. He’s a student who tracks down the facts. He’s left his practice to follow the Apostle Paul on this missionary journey and personally greets the church.
Demas: Once a faithful and helpful minister of the gospel, Demas ends up forsaking the Lord’s ministry because he loves this world more than he loves Christ (2 Tim. 4:9,10)
Nympha: Generously shares her home as a meeting place for a nearby church in Laodicea.
Archippus: Probably the one filling in the primary shepherding role in Colossae while Epaphras is away.
It is significant that a letter like Colossians, the purpose of which is to defend the true gospel which is based on an accurate understanding of the person and work of Christ should end like this, with a name of faithful believing people whose lives prove the power of that very message!
As you read that list, did you see your name there? Perhaps you read one of the descriptions and thought of another member of our body? I did! I thought of many of you who are working through the difficult process of reconciliation, who are effective teachers, who routinely encourage, who share your possessions, homes, and abilities to serve. As we go to prayer tonight, let us, like the Colossians, thank the Lord for the wonderful relationships he has given us in the church and how, through them, he makes us more like Christ. While we're at it, let's pray for those who, like Demas, may be struggling/wrestling with sin, that they may not be lost to the world.