12 PARTNERSHIP Colossians 4:7-18Philippians and Colossians – Joyful Living in Christ
All written materials for this series will be posted on this website, http://servingandsharing.com/, under the category, “Philippians and Colossians – Joyful Living in Christ.” Here is my video presentation introducing this series – https://youtu.be/VBg_Wdyu104. The video of this specific class presentation, as well as all the others in this series, will be posted to this YouTube playlist as they are recorded – Faith Builders Class: Philippians, Colossians: Joyful Living in Christ – YouTube. Please use the “Contact” button to request corresponding handouts and outlines.
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12 PARTNERSHIP Colossians 4:7-18
Paul’s closing remarks in his letters give a “pat on the back” to people who have made a difference to his readers, to him, to the Lord’s cause, and to his own life. They are not the most prominent Bible characters. You may never have studied them or heard a lesson about them. But what they were and what they did, however small they may appear to us, were tremendously important to Paul. How much we can learn from his comments! While we often mine Paul’s letters for the great doctrinal truths they contain, may we never skip over the final greetings. They are so priceless!
These individuals remind us that those who assist the Lord’s cause, even in what seems to be a lesser capacity, are immensely valuable and therefore to share in the victory. When King David fought the Amalekites, 400 men went with him into battle. The other 200, too exhausted to go, stayed behind and guarded the troops’ supplies. When the 400 fighters wanted to exclude the baggage handlers from the spoils, look what David said/
1 Sa 30:24 “… For as his share is who goes down to the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage; they shall share alike.”
Col 4:7 As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bondservant in the Lord, will bring you information. 8 For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts …
Paul first names the man who delivered this letter to Colossae. Without him or another dependable courier, they and we may never have received its message. Tychicus also carried Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians (Eph 6:21-22).
Tychicus (“fortunate”) was a Christian from the province of Asia, traveling with Paul on his third missionary journey (Acts 20:4). He accompanied Paul to Jerusalem, as a delegate of his own church, to help carry the collection of funds given to aid the poor saints in Jerusalem. Along with other disciples, Tychicus traveled ahead of Paul from Macedonia to Troas, where he waited for the apostle’s arrival.
Tychicus was Paul’s trusted personal representative, here and also at other times and places. Paul sent Tychicus as a messenger to Titus in Crete (Titus 3:12), perhaps as a “pinch hitter” to give him relief, and afterward to Timothy in Ephesus (2 Tim 4:12), when Timothy was needed elsewhere. He was an ambassador, a reliable representative of Paul and the Lord.
Here Paul calls him “our beloved brother,” indicating that he was dear and precious. “Faithful servant” or “minister” points to his reliable involvement in meeting the needs of others. “Fellow bondservant” may suggest that he voluntarily chose to stay in the prison with Paul at this time. He was totally devoted to Christ, whether in physical chains or not.
His tasks at this time are to deliver Paul’s letter, inform the church regarding Paul’s circumstances, and encourage the hearts of these saints in Colossae.
9 and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your number. They will inform you about the whole situation here.
Onesimus (“useful”) was a slave of Philemon and an inhabitant of Colossae (Col. 4:9; Philem. 10). When Onesimus fled from his master to Rome, he met the apostle Paul. Paul led him to become a Christian. In his letter to Philemon, Paul spoke of Onesimus as “my own heart” (Phm 12), indicating that Onesimus had become like a son to him.
Paul convinced Onesimus to return to his master, Philemon. He also sent a letter with Onesimus, encouraging Philemon to treat Onesimus as a brother rather than a slave. Onesimus not only accompanied Tychicus in delivering the Colossian letter; he also brought Paul’s letter to Philemon when he went back to him. Paul wrote regarding him with love and warmth.
Phm 10 I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, 11 who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me. 12 I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, 13 whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel …
Onesimus was transformed by Christ from a “useless slave” to “useful brother,” from a forced slave to a willing servant. May the same be said of you and me!
10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings …
Aristarchus (“best ruler”) was Paul’s companion in Ephesus, caught by the followers of Artemis there (Acts 19:29). Apparently, this same Aristarchus accompanied Paul from Greece to Jerusalem as he returned from his third missionary journey. He acted as a delegate of the Thessalonian church, to help with carrying the collection (Acts 20:4). Along with Tychicus (noted above) and other disciples, he traveled ahead of Paul from Macedonia to Troas, where he waited for the apostle’s arrival.
Aristarchus also accompanied Paul when he sailed from Caesarea for Rome. There he is referred to as “a Macedonian of Thessalonica” (Acts 27:2).
“My fellow-prisoner” may suggest, in even stronger terms than “fellow bondservant” used above of Tychicus, that Aristarchus either was arrested along with Paul or that he voluntarily accepted imprisonment with Paul to give him support and sympathy. How better could one have strengthened Paul in his suffering? Here is a great example of bearing one another’s burdens by choosing to put oneself in another’s predicament. Sometimes we cannot remove a brother’s grief, but we can do all within our power to hurt with him, be with him, and identify with him. He may have alternated with Epaphras in this (See Phm 23-24).
Along with Mark and Jesus Justus, who are mentioned next, Aristarchus is said to be “of the circumcision.” Though this could mean he was a Gentile proselyte, it is much more likely that he was of Jewish origin.
10 … and also Barnabas’s cousin Mark (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him);
Mark, also known as John Mark, is (with Luke) among the best known of these characters. “John” comes from the Hebrew “Yohanan” and means, “Yahweh has shown grace.” “Marcus” was an adopted Latin (Roman) name. Of course, Mark is considered to have written the second gospel. In that gospel there are Latin words (rendered in Greek) that may support the idea that Mark was inspired to write about Jesus for a Roman readership.
Here we find him with Paul, along with these others, during his imprisonment.
Mark’s mother, Mary, was an influential woman of Jerusalem who possessed a large house with servants. The early church gathered in this house during Peter’s imprisonment under Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:12). Barnabas and Saul (Paul) took John Mark with them when they returned from Jerusalem to Antioch after their famine-relief visit (Acts 12:25). Shortly thereafter, Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey as far as Perga. He served in the capacity of “assistant” (Acts 13:5), which probably involved arranging for travel, food, and lodging; he may have done some teaching, too.
At Perga, c. AD 49-50, John Mark returned home for an undisclosed reason (Acts 13:13). This caused a rift between Paul and Barnabas when they prepared for the second missionary journey (Acts 15:37–41). Paul was unwilling to take Mark again and chose Silas; they returned to Asia Minor and Greece. Barnabas persisted in his choice of Mark, who was his cousin (Col. 4:10), and he returned with him to his homeland of Cyprus (Acts 15:39; also Acts 4:36). (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
In Phm 24 Paul includes Mark as a “fellow worker.” He asks Timothy in 2 Tim 4:11 to “pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.”
5. JESUS JUSTUS
11 … and also Jesus who is called Justus; these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision, and they have proved to be an encouragement to me.
“Jesus,” the Greek form of Joshua, was a common name in the first century. Many were named after Joshua. “Justus” is Latin for “righteous.” A descriptive term like that (James the Less, for example) would distinguish one person from others who bore the same name.
We don’t know anything else about this man, but what else do we need to know, besides these two great names? To be named after Joshua and to be known as righteous … that is tremendous!
The word rendered “encouragement” or “consolation” is used only here in the New Testament. As Robertson notes, “Παρηγορια [Parēgoria] is an old word from παρηγορεω [parēgoreō], to make an address) and means solace, relief. A medical term. Curiously enough our word paregoric comes from it (παρηγορικος [parēgorikos]).”
12 Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis.
We have described Epaphras previously in our discussion of Col 1. Here we see that Epaphras was a Colossian himself and that he labored earnestly (Gk. term from which we get “agonize” in prayer. He prayed strenuously and exhaustively, wearing himself out in prayer. And for what? For the brethren to “stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.”
“Deep concern” renders “much pain, distress, affliction.” The word for “concern” appears only three other times in the NT, in each case referring to the pain suffered by God’s enemies under his judgment (Rev 16:10-11; 21:4).
Though the wording is different, the idea of great concern for the church occurs elsewhere.
Col 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions … 28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
2 Co 11:28 Apart from such external things (Paul’s physical trials), there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?
We don’t know the state of the church in Laodicea when Paul wrote these words. As described in Rev 3:14-22, it later became a materialistic and self-satisfied church. Jesus called it lukewarm, neither hot or cold, and threatened to spew that church out from his mouth.
Hierapolis (“priestly city”) was also the district of Phrygia in southwest Asia Minor (modern Turkey). One of the three major cities of the Lycus River Valley, it was about 10 miles northwest of Colossae. (Col. 4:13). Christianity apparently flourished there.
14 Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings …
I have edited the following from Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary.
Luke is a “fellow laborer” of the apostle Paul (Phm 24) and the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. By profession he was a physician (Col 4:14). During one of Paul’s imprisonments, probably in Rome, Luke’s faithfulness was recorded by Paul when he declared, “Only Luke is with me” (2 Tim 4:11). These three references are our only direct knowledge of Luke in the New Testament.
A bit more of Luke’s life and personality can be pieced together with the aid of his writings (Luke and Acts) and some outside sources. It’s possible that he came from Antioch in Syria, because Antioch played a significant role in the early Gentile mission that Luke described in Acts (Acts 11; 13; 14; 15; 18). Luke was a Gentile (Col 4:10–17) and the only non-Jewish author of a New Testament book.
Luke accompanied Paul on parts of his second, third, and final missionary journeys. At three places in Acts, the narrative changes to the first person (“we”). This probably indicates that Luke was personally present during those episodes. On the second journey (AD 49–53), Luke accompanied Paul on the short voyage from Troas to Philippi (Acts 16:10–17). On the third journey (AD 54–58), Luke was present on the voyage from Philippi to Jerusalem (Acts 20:5–21:18). Whether Luke had spent the intervening time in Philippi is uncertain, but his connection with Philippi has led some to favor it (rather than Antioch) as Luke’s home.
Once in Palestine, Luke probably remained close by Paul during his two-year imprisonment in Caesarea (Acts 24:27). During this time, Luke probably drew together material, both oral and written, which he later used (as the Holy Spirit inspired him) in writing the third gospel (Luke 1:1–4). A third “we” passage describes in masterful suspense the shipwreck during Paul’s voyage to Rome for his trial before Caesar. Each of the “we” passages involves Luke on a voyage, and the description of the journey from Jerusalem to Rome is full of observations and knowledge of nautical matters (Acts 27).
Luke apparently was a humble man, with no desire to sound his own horn. More than one-fourth of the New Testament comes from his pen, but not once does he mention himself by name. He had a greater command of the Greek language and was probably more broadminded and urbane than any New Testament writer. He was a careful historian, both by his own admission (Luke 1:1–4) and by the judgment of later history.
Luke’s gospel highlights Jesus’ concern for the poor, sick, and outcast, thus offering a clue to why Paul called him “the beloved physician” (Col. 4:14). He was faithful not only to Paul, but to the greater cause he served—the publication of “good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10).
That concludes the material from Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary.
We may also note that Luke may have given Paul medical care at various times, perhaps in Rome. Luke’s occupation as a doctor was completely compatible with his Christian faith. In times of illness, praying with faith and seeing the doctor are not contradictory! The Bible does not support the claims of certain cults and so-called “faith healers,” who say that going to doctors is a denial of faith in God.
Paul even advised Timothy regarding how to treat medically his sick stomach and his frequent ailments (1 Tim 5:23). We know from 2 Tim 4:20 that, on one occasion, Paul had to leave Trophimus behind in Miletus, because he was so sick.
But Luke was more than just a doctor. He was a fellow-worker and faithful companion to Paul. Again, see what Paul wrote about him in 2 Tim 4:11 as the apostle was imprisoned again later and nearing death. “Only Luke is with me …” Paul’s sadness as he names those who have left is only tolerable because of Luke’s presence with him.
14 … and also Demas.
Demas was a friend and co-worker of the apostle Paul at Rome. Demas later deserted Paul, “having loved this present world” (2 Tim 4:10; Col 4:14; Phm 24).
15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house. 16 When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea.
Nympha (“gift of the nymphs”) was a sister in Christ, either in Colossae or Laodicea, in whose home the church met. We know nothing else about her.
It is altogether biblical and right for the church to meet in homes (Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 16:19; Phm 2). Church buildings can be a scriptural, useful means for assembly, but the early church used homes and other existing structures when they met.
17 Say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”
Archippus (“chief horseman”) seems to have held an official position in the church. Perhaps he preached there. In Phm 2 Paul called him “our fellow soldier.” In our text he exhorted him to look after or pay more careful attention to his ministry in the Lord. That instruction may imply that Archippus had cut back on his efforts or diminished his zeal for doing the work Christ had given him.
In what local church ministry are you active and involved? Are you giving it your best, “taking heed” to it as that which you received from the Lord?
18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my imprisonment. Grace be with you.
At times Paul would use an amanuensis or secretary to do the actual writing of his letters. For example, he had Tertius write the epistle to the Romans (Rom 16:22). write for him. Paul frequently added his handwritten greeting at the close of his letters. Note:
2 Th 3:17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write.
1 Co 16:21 The greeting is in my own hand—Paul.
Ga 6:11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.
Phm 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand …
“Remember my imprisonment.” What a simple yet profound request. The great and mighty apostle Paul wanted the assurance of knowing that others were thinking about him. We Christians need to give and receive that kind of attention today as well. We must also keep in mind followers of Christ worldwide who are suffering persecution, imprisonment, torture, and the prospect of death.
Heb 13:3 Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.
Such love is the hallmark of the Christian faith. And with this statement from Jesus we close this series, “Joyful Living in Christ: Philippians and Colossians.” Here it is:
Jn 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
God bless you all! I hope you’ll continue studying God’s Word with me. Please leave a comment or reach out to me through the “Contact” button.