Epaphras, a Faithful Minister of Christ

John Heading, Aberystwyth

Category: Exposition

The apostle Paul attracted around himself men of like outlook and character. Timothy and Silas had been deliberately chosen by the apostle, while others such as Apollos, Aquila and Priscilla chose to associate themselves with him. This did not make Paul their centres to abide faithful Christ had to be the true centre. We find that special men were associated with particular churches, epistles and aspects of Paul's work: Timothy in 1 Corinthians, Titus in 2 Corin­thians ;   Epaphroditus   in   Philippians,   and   Epaphras   in Colossians. Thus the Spirit takes note of everyone having fellowship with the servants of Christ. Hence in Acts 20. 4 there were men arising from Paul's three journeys accom­panying him from Corinth into Macedonia.

It is therefore helpful to assess ourselves relative to the spirituality and faithfulness of any particular character, such as Epaphras. This man was "our dear fellowservant", Col. 1. 7, namely, "fellowbondman". This was the attitude taken in service Christward - as Paul described himself, Phil. 1. 1. Thus Paul could love him, with both men on the bottom rung of the ladder, unitedly giving Christ the exalted position. Again, he was "for you a faithful minister of Christ". This is deacon-service saintward, in a position established by the Head. The word "deacon" implies all service, both the kind that serves tables and the kind that deals with ministry of the Word, Acts 6. 2, 4. The concept of "faithful" is important; faith acquires salvation - we trust God; faithfulness is a result -He trusts us in His service. Paul was "counted... faithful", 1 Tim.  1. 12, as were Timothy, Tychicus, Silvanus and Onesimus.

The conversation of Epaphras was not governed by gossip, but by holy reporting of news; he "declared unto us your love in the Spirit", Col. 1. 8. This would be love for Christ, love mutually between the saints as governing all relationships, and a "labour of love" in service, 1 Thess. 1. 4. On the matter of holy reporting, the reader should consult 1 Corinthians 4. 17;

2  Corinthians 7. 7, "he told us your earnest desire, your mourning", Ephesians 6.21; Colossians 4.7.  Such news would not be coloured or exaggerated, but faithfully expounded.

Again, Epaphras is described as being "one of you", Col. 4. 12, as is Onesimus in verse 9. Here is spiritual recognition of membership of a local assembly. Here was no drifting, even when away from home circumstances. Paul regarded Onesimus as linked with the Colossians even before he returned from his conversion in Rome. This therefore supports the deliberate recognition of membership of a local assembly; see also Acts 15.24; 1 John 2.11. Additionally, Epaphras was "a servant of Christ", namely "Christ's bondservant"; the Lord Himself had placed him in this lowly position, and Paul recognized that the highest service devel­oped from the lowliest roots.

Moreover, he was "labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God". Here was nothing spasmodic, but continuity in prayer. Paul always adopted this principle of prayer, "we give thanks to God .. . praying always for you", Col. i. 3; he did not "cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will", v. 9. By way of reciprocation, they should do the same for him, "praying for us also", 4. 2-3. The reader can find this constant two-way fellowship in prayer in most of Paul's Epistles. Thus Epaphras did this for his home assembly, and such exercise may well burden our own hearts constantly during assembly prayer meetings.

Continuing, he had a great zeal for his home assembly, and for "them that are in Laodicea", 4. 13. The zeal of the Lord's house affects one's whole personality and exercises, John 2. 17. The Lord sought purity of the house in His zeal, and our prayers, following those of Epaphras, should likewise seek the wellbeing of our own and other assemblies. Perhaps the cessation of this payer for Laodicea was associated with its downfall in Revelation 3. 14-22.

Finally, we find in Philemon 23 that Epaphras was Paul's "fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus", a fact not mentioned in Colossians. We are not told why, but the reason can only be on account of his testimony for Christ and association with Paul. He could still greet the saints, suffering as a Christian, yet glorifying God on this behalf, 1 Pet. 4.16.

There are 11 articles in
ISSUE (1975, Volume 26 Issue 5)

The Book of Esther

Day of Atonement

Epaphras, a Faithful Minister of Christ

F. Cundick

A Good Soldier

Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities

The Government of the Assembly

The Man of God’s House, Psalm 84


Spiritual Sacrifices, 1 Peter 24-7


This article is not part of a series

There are 66 articles by this author

The Merchants and the Children

The King and the Multitudes

Fruitfulness and Repentance

Communicating Spiritual Things by Spiritual Means

Service with Tears

Acts, A Study in New Testament Christianity

Divine Assessment and Witness

Epaphras, a Faithful Minister of Christ

Paul’s Charge to Timothy, The First Epistle to Timothy

Prophecy and the Present Age

Groupings Amongst Men

The Rapture and Subsequent Events

Summary of Daniel and Revelation

The Four Kingdom Amongst Men

Apostasy and Its End

How I was called to Salvation and Service - Introduction

Divine Involvement in Assembly Service

Types and Shadows in the Epistle to the Hebrews

Understanding 1 & 2 Chronicles - The House of God and its Service

Do You Pray for the Lord’s Servants?

Greater Than

Conversion, Baptism and Service

The Lordship of Christ in the Local Assembly

Luke’s Life of Christ

The Lordship of Christ in the Local Assembly (Part 2)

Prayer, Power, Plenitude, 1. 15 to 2. 10

Position, Privilege, Peace, 2. 11-22

Prisoner, Promise, Preaching, Prayer, Eph. 3. 1-21

Practical: Prophets, Pastors, Perfecting, 4. 1-16

Practical Conduct - Part 1: 4. 17-32

Practical Conduct - Part 2: 5. 1-20

Personal Relationships in the Family, 5. 21 to 6. 9

Power, Protection, Prayer, 6. 10-24

Parents and Children

Daily Bible Readings

The Seven - Thousand Year Miracle (Part 1)

What the Bible Teaches Vol. 6 John

The Seven - Thousand Year Miracle (Part 2)

The Maturity of Writer and Readers

Giving and Keeping

Purpose, Predestination, Pleasure, Praise, 1. 1-14


As Unknown and yet Well Known

The Beauty of the Assembly

The Holy Assembly


Zion (2)

Are You a Trustee?

The Lord's Titles


The Mount of Transfiguration

Genealogy of the Priests

Both Small and Great

Book Reviews

The Unity of the Godhead

Book Reviews


Book Review

Letters of Commendation - Additional Notes

How Amiable Are Thy Tabernacles

Twenty-One Years Ago

They Continued Steadfastly

Book Review

Matthew 21 - The Context of the Chapter

The Vineyard and the Stone

Parable of the Wedding Feast - Matthew 22. 1-14