As was his usual custom, Paul closed his letter by sending greetings to and from various believers. These closings are always of significant interest as they give us a meaningful glimpse into the lives of some of the believers of the early church—brothers and sisters whom we shall soon meet face to face in heaven and fellowship with. We shall all serve our Lord together for eternity.
In our text today, Paul is the first believer seen. The point being stressed is his eternal optimism. He was in prison, yet he believed unreservedly that he could be freed by the prayers of his dear friends. What an impact prayer has. God answers prayer; this is His promise. The problem is that we do not take God at His word: we do not pray. The friends of Paul prayed and Paul was apparently released from prison.
Epaphras was a servant of the Lord who in the past had been imprisoned with Paul. He was the “minister” of the Colossian church. He was “a faithful minister of Christ”. He was “a servant of Christ”. He was a “fellow servant” who was ever so dear to Paul’s heart. He was so committed and dedicated to Christ that Paul called him “my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus”. He was a believer who fervently labored and toiled in prayer for his dear people in Colosse. He prayed in particular for one thing: that they might be perfect and complete in all the will of God; that is, that they might know the complete will of God and do His will perfectly. He was a minister who worked hard for his own church and for all the churches that surrounded him. He prayed and prayed much, but he also worked much, so much that his labor was even a testimony to the great minister Paul.
John Mark was the young man who had repented. Mark had earlier deserted Paul and the ministry but notice what Paul says to the Colossian church. He tells the church that they are to receive John Mark if he was able to visit them. Apparently, some earlier instructions had been sent to the churches founded by Paul telling them about Mark’s desertion. But now the young man had repented and recommitted his life to Christ. He had repented therefore, he was to be welcomed. When a believer fails and sins, even if it is desertion of Christ, he is to be welcomed back with open arms once he has repented. We must not hold a person’s failure and sin against him. Christ has forgiven us for so much—all of us—therefore we must forgive and welcome our brothers and sisters back into our hearts and lives.
Aristarchus was the believer who was a faithful companion, one who was always there when needed. He is always seen with Paul and other believers, joining them in their great trials and sufferings. He was a member of the Thessalonian church, a citizen of Thessalonica. He was one of the believers attacked by the violent mob in Ephesus. The citizens of Ephesus were rioting against Christianity because so many people were being converted that it was cutting into the sale of idols made to the goddess Diana. The fact that Aristarchus was one of the believers attacked and dragged before the mob shows that he was a leader and spokesman for Christ. He went with Paul to minister in Asia. He is seen travelling with Paul to Rome after Paul had been arrested and was being transferred to Rome as a prisoner. He is seen as a fellow prisoner with Paul in Rome while Paul was awaiting trial on the charge of treason. Apparently he too was being charged with the same crime. The point is that he was a real companion, a companion who stood by the side of his fellow believers through thick and thin. He would never think of deserting his dear friends or the Lord, no matter how difficult the task or terrible the trial. He would face imprisonment and suffer death before he would be a turncoat. He was a good man to have around when facing trials, for he would stand by the side of his friend even if it meant imprisonment and death.
Demas was a man who turned away from Christ going back to the world. His life is written in tragedy, a life that serves as a warning to other believers, a life that shows the utter necessity of walking in Christ daily. At first, he is seen as a fellow laborer. Later he is just a name, with no comment at all—perhaps suggesting the detection of some loss of spirit and energy in the work for the Lord. Finally, he is Demas who “loved this present world” and forsook the Lord’s work.
Luke gave all to follow Christ, all that the world had to offer. He was the physician who was beloved by Paul and the church. Luke is said to be the “beloved physician”, a physician who was endeared to the hearts of believers.
Listen to this message here: