In all of today’s Facebook, vine, Instagram, and other social media it has never been easier to stay connected with friends and family. Are we using this media to encourage, exhort, and comfort our fellow Christians? Take heed to the ministry which you have received, that you may fulfill it. We are called to love one another as Christ love us first.
Colossians 4:7-18 “7 Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. 8 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts, 9 with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all things which are happening here. 10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him), 11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis. 14 Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you. 15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house. 16 Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it." 18 This salutation by my own hand--Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen.”
Today with all of our technology and just about everyone in the US owning a phone and many have personal cell phones, we do not understand the difficulty and time constraints on communication in Paul’s day. Remember that the church in Colosse had never seen Paul, but was most likely started by Epaphras (Colossians 1:7) who went to Colosse from Ephesus, and held church in the home of Philemon (Philemon 1:2). Paul’s letter to the Colossians had to be hand delivered and because of the spiritual weight of the word itself, and having not established his own personal relationship with the Colossians, he sent a fellow minister who the Colossians could identify with. Onesimus is an interesting fellow in that he is actually a runaway slave from the house of Philemon, but after he came to Paul became a great help to Paul. We read in the book of Philemon that Paul pleaded to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus, not only for his life, but for his acceptance as a brother in the Lord. In the Roman culture the owner of a runaway had every legal right, and for the sake of control of the other slaves, could have had Onesimus put to death. So here we are at this time of where Paul is correcting some of the thinking of the Colossians and pointing them toward actions of grace and love toward each other and those on the outside that he sends a runaway slave back to his Christian owner as a brother in the Lord. What a test!
The Mark in verse 10 is the same one that was with Paul in the book of Acts and most likely the same Mark that was with Peter when he started the church in Ethiopia. Mark was not an apostle as some people think even though he wrote the book of Mark, but actually acted as a scribe for Peter. He is the same John Mark in 1 Peter 5:13 and according to Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History, Bishop Papias describes Mark as “the interpreter of Peter”. In verse 11 Paul identifies both Mark and Justus as converted Jews. Paul also identifies Mark as a proven comfort to him which is important because in Acts 15:38-39 we read that Paul and Barnabas parted ways over Paul not wanting Mark’s presence. According to verse 38 Mark had deserted them during the work in Pamphylia and Paul had taken an offence to it. This is proof that the very teaching of grace and love was actually lived out by Paul himself.
Paul also identifies Luke, verse 14, as being with him while in prison. Luke was not one of the original twelve apostles either, but record shows that he was there during the life and ministry of Jesus while He was here on earth. Luke was a very educated physician who takes account for the factual recording of events that we read in the book of Luke and Acts. Verse 15 is another indication that church in the early days was actually held in people’s homes. Romans 16:6, 1 Corinthians 16:19, and Philemon 2 are additional records of the church in the homes of believers.
An interesting note is it was in the year 323 AD when Constantine commissioned the building of a temple, similar to those used by Pagan worshippers, to be built for the Christians. Until then records show the church to be held in the homes of Christians. This was the beginning of a massive growth in churches in the Roman Empire and these churches were identified by a name from the New Testament. Church as we know it today did not start out that way, and I have to admit that this movement did cause an explosion in “church” attendance, but the attendees were not all believers. Many were Pagans attracted by the beauty of the building itself. History also shows that some of the holidays we celebrate today were actually aligned with preexisting Pagan days of worship in effort to aid in conversion of the Pagans. Even Halloween which is short for “All Hallows Eve” came about when the Roman Catholic Church named November 1 as All Saints Day since they had identified more people as saints than there were days in a year. October 31 was already an existing Pagan night of worship of the dead when the church declared All Saints Day as November 1. The church may have exploded in membership, but the original intention of the spread of the gospel was to be person to person. Conversions in this manor are more real.
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