The fifth session in our time together was led by Warren Peel from Northern Ireland. This was the first of two planned messages on Epaphras, the minister so highly commended by Paul in Colossians. He spoke this time on two matters
1. Faithful preaching Colossians 1:5-7
Epaphras faithfully preached the gospel. He proclaimed the grace of God. The Colossians learned the gospel from him. Normally, hearing or obeying or believing is used. Perhaps Paul is stressing the careful, patient labour Epaphras employed.
This is what Christ sends his ministers to do. Christ himself ministered in this way. Remember his words in the synagogue at Nazareth or Mark 1:14. Mark 1:38 makes the same point - Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else - to the nearby villages - so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” This is the first of three crucial points where Mark records that Jesus prayed. The greatness of Christ's preaching - the model for Epaphras. Are we too doing the work of an evangelist? If they won't come in are we going out? Sirs, we would see Jesus - put it up not just in the pulpit but in the study.
2. Frequent pains Colossians 4:12,13
He has worked tirelessly on behalf of the people. He has much toil it is literally. He has not worked hard and is now relaxing. He goes on toiling on their behalf. This is an unusual word for work. (The word only appears elsewhere in Revelation). It is a battlefield word and it emphasises pains taking effort. If Paul is in Rome at this time then Epaphras has travelled over a thousand miles to get Paul's help with this empty and hollow philosophy that was doing such harm in the Lycus Valley. It may even have been that Epaphras was in imprisoned there in Rome alongside Paul (see Philemon). Where did he get this idea? No doubt he got it because his ministry was shaped by Christ's ministry. Much toil was central to Christ's ministry. Think of his death and his life too. How much of this do we know? Are you toiling or shrinking back? It is tempting to hold back. 1 Peter 2:21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.