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Colossians 4 verses 12 to 13

12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a slave of Christ, greets you. He is always struggling in prayer on your behalf, so that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.

13 For I can testify that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and Hierapolis.
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Phrases:

Epaphras – He is only mentioned in Colossians and Philemon. His name means lovely.

Colossians 1:7 (NET) 7 You learned the gospel from Epaphras, our dear fellow slave – a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf –

Philemon 1:23 (NET) 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you.

When you piece together Epaphras’ life from these two verses and this Colossians verse, we learn the following:

1.  His name means, lovely.
2.  He was from Colossi.
3.  He taught the Colossians the gospel.
4.  Paul calls him a fellow slave of Christ.
5.  Paul calls him a faithful minister of Christ on his behalf.
6.  Paul calls him a fellow prisoner.
7.  He was a man of prayer for his people, and he was a messenger of the gospel.

who is one of you – meaning, like Onesimus, Epaphras was a fellow believer from the city of Colosssi.

and a slave of Christ – meaning he voluntarily made himself Christ’s servant.  The Greek word Dou-los means slave. It is often translated as servant or bond servant.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why does the word slave cause friction within us?
  2. Should every Christian be a slave of Christ?

greets you – He was most likely a fellow prisoner with Paul at the time Paul wrote the letter, and he sends his greeting along with the others mentioned in this passage.

He is always struggling in prayer on your behalf –

First notice the frequency of his prayers – always. He was persistent in prayer.

Second, the Greek word for struggle is where we get our English word for agonize. The word means to fight, wrestle, contend, combat, labor fervently, and to strive. This describes how Epaphras prayed for his fellow Colossians.

Discussion Questions:

  1.  Why do you think some prayer requests we are persistent while others we stop?
  2.  Why do you think Paul used the word struggle to describe Epaphras’ prayers for the Colossians?
  3. Can you give an example of someone you agonized in prayer for?

so that you may stand mature – the first purpose of his prayers is they be presented perfect, complete, and finished in God’s will for their lives.

and fully assured – the second desire of his prayers is they would be completely full, sure, confident, certain, and persuaded of the will of God for them.

Discussion Question: How was the content of Epaphras’ prays different than many of our prayers?

in all the will of God – meaning all of God’s will, purpose, and desire for them.

For I can testify – meaning that Paul can truthfully bear witness and bear record for Epaphras’ actions.

that he has worked hard for you and for those in – other English translations say he has a great zeal or deep concern for them instead of he worked hard for them.

The phrase “worked hard” or “great zeal” or “deep concern” is translated from two Greek words “polys ponos”.  Polys means much or many.  Ponos means toil or anguish.

The sense is that Epaphras was deeply pained to pray for the Colossians, Laodiceans, and Hierapolians the best he could on behalf of their spiritual condition.

Discussion Question: How does Epaphras’ attitude toward their spiritual condition motivate you for the souls of others?

Laodicea and Hierapolis-
The blue letter Bible app Greek lexicon says the following:

Laodicea = “justice of the people”
a city of Phrygia, situated on the river Lycus not far from Colosse.

Discussion Question: What else do we know about the state of the Laodicea church from other scripture?

Hierapolis = “holy city”.  A city near Colosse and Laodicea.
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Listening Prayer method – a method where you write what you think God would say to you after meditating and studying a Bible passage.

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Do you pray like Epaphras?

Bob,

Do you have a burden for others to pray for them like Epaphras? Before prayer, take a quite moment and listen to Me. I will bring My children’s burden’s to your heart.

Struggle and wrestle in prayer for them. Pray that they may have spiritual victory in their faith and over the flesh, the world, and the devil. Don’t pray only for their physical needs, but pray that their faith in me will grow and endure that they may be mature and assured of My desires for their life. Pray for them often and persistently. Pray until My will be formed in them.

Be motivated for their souls with great zeal and deep concern. Work hard for their soul to be complete in My will.

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Other reference material below.
Easton’s Bible Dictionary

Laodicea

The city of this name mentioned in Scripture lay on the confines of hPhrygia and Lydia, about 40 miles east of Ephesus (Rev 3:14), on the banks of the Lycus. It was originally called Diospolis and then Rhoas, but afterwards Laodicea, from Laodice, the wife of Antiochus II., king of Syria, who rebuilt it. It was one of the most important and flourishing cities of Asia Minor. At a very early period it became one of the chief seats of Christianity (Col 2:1; 4:15; Rev 1:11, etc.). It is now a deserted place, called by the Turks Eski-hissar or “old castle.”

International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia

Hierapolis

he-er-ap’-o-lis (Hierapolis, “sacred city”): As the name implies, Hierapolis was a holy city. It was situated 6 miles from Laodicea and twice that distance from Colosse, on the road from Sardis to Apamea. Though its history is not well known, it seems to have been of Lydian origin, and once bore the name of Kydrara. The Phrygian god Sabazios was worshipped there under the name Echidma, and represented by the symbol of the serpent. Other local deities were Leto and her son Lairbenos. Though called the holy city, Hierapolis was peculiarly regarded as the stronghold of Satan, for there was a Plutonium, or a hole reaching far down into the earth, from which there issued a vapor, even poisoning the birds flying above. It is supposed that upon a stool, deep in the Plutonium, a priest or priestess sat, and, when under the influence of the vapor, uttered prophecies valuable to those who sought them. Though a stronghold of Satan, Hierapolis early became a Christian city, for, according to Col 4:13, the only place where it is mentioned in the New Testament, a church was founded there through the influence of Paul while he was at Ephesus. Tradition claims that Philip was the first evangelist to preach there, and it also claims that he and his two unmarried daughters were buried there; a third who was married, was buried at Ephesus. Several of the early Christians suffered martyrdom at Hierapolis, yet Christianity flourished, other churches were built, and during the 4th century the Christians filled the Plutonium with stones, thus giving evidence that the paganism had been entirely supplanted by the church. During the Roman period, Justinian made the city a metropolis, and it continued to exist into the Middle Ages. In the year 1190 Frederick Barbarossa fought with the Byzantines there.

The modern town is called Pambuk Kalessi, or cotton castle, not because cotton is raised in the vicinity, but because of the white deposit from the water of the calcareous springs. The springs were famous in ancient times because they were supposed to possess Divine powers. The water is tepid, impregnated with alum, but pleasant to the taste. It was used by the ancients for dyeing and medicinal purposes. The deposit of pure white brought up by the water from the springs has heaped itself over the surrounding buildings, nearly burying them, and stalactite formations, resembling icicles, hang from the ruins. The ruins, which are extensive, stand on a terrace, commanding an extensive view, and though they are partly covered by the deposit, one may still trace the city walls, the temple, several churches, the triumphal arch, the gymnasium and baths, and the most perfect theater in Asia Minor. Outside the walls are many tombs.

Written by E. J. Banks

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