Friday, August 21, 2009

Thoughts on Epaphras (Col. 1:3-8) AKA The Cycle of Encouragement!

Colossians 1:3-8

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that 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 truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—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.”

3 Observations:

  • Epaphras has been ministering the gospel to the Colossians faithfully.
  • Epaphras relayed the good news of the fruitfulness of the gospel in Colossae.
  • The reason Paul is writing to the Colossians is because he heard what was going on there from Epaphras.
I imagine that the reason Epaphras told Paul about the Colossians "love in the Spirit" is because he was excited to see the gospel bearing fruit in the lives of those he was ministering to. The joy of being used by God is by nature outpouring. Epaphras can wait to tell Paul how the gospel's bearing fruit, knowing that Paul will be encouraged by it. Paul, a spiritual leader in the churches, rejoices in the forward progress of the gospel. And his friends and fellow ministers love to share their joy with him.

Do you see the cycle of encouragement, and how it travels? First, Epaphras ministers. I imagine that there were some struggles and some hardships and resistence, like all ministry. Then, the gospel breaks down walls and open eyes and hearts. The people begin to grow and bear fruit. Epaphras is in awe of the work of God, and he rejoices. In his joy, he writes to Paul, relaying the power of the gospel and the fruit that is growing and the love that is happening. Paul is relieved and rejoices with Epaphras and writes a letter BACK to Epaphras and the Colossians, relaying how the good news has encouraged him. He says in this letter in vs. 9 "From the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you..." The encouragement Paul received from Epaphras caused Paul to continually pray for the church, which undoubtedly is an incredible affirmation and encouragement for Epaphras and the Colossians.

There is a healthy relationship of love and encouragement and prayer between Paul and Epaphras and the Colossians. It reminds of the the Proverb, "Whoever brings blessings will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered." (11:25)

I think this is why Paul said in Galatians 6:6 "One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches." Paul didn't want to miss out on encouragement!

The Point: Let people know when they've encouraged you. Let people know when you are praying for them. Let people know the good things God is doing in your life.

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