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Chapter 4:7 - 18

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Final Greetings (ch. 4:7-18)

 

In Paulís closing remarks he tells the Colossians that he is sending Tychicus to fill them in how he and his companions in the service of Christ are doing.  Paul does not take the time in this letter to do that.  Thatís too bad.  I would have liked to have known more of the details of how Paul was doing, but remember, writing letters back then was not as easy as it is today for us.

 

Paul says that Tychicus is a dear brother.  Paul's tender hearted emotion shows through in these words.  Tychicus is also a faithful minister and a servant.  The first century believers understood what many don't understand today.  We are all servants of God. Church leaders are servants, caring for God's people.  They are not career orientated professionals.                  

 

I think it's important for us to note that Paul was sending some of his helpers while he was in prison to the Colossian community of believers.  He was giving up his own help for the sake of others.  This shows us the heart of a servant of the Lord.   

 

We see in verse 9 that Onesimus is going along withTychicus.  Onesimus was a slave that was on his way back to his master Philemon.  You can read a little of his story in Paulís letter to Philemon.  We learn that Onesimus was a Colossian in this verse.  

 

In verse 10 we see that Paul was not the only one in prison.  He says that Aristarchus, "my fellow prisoner" sends his greetings as well.  Paul was not the only first century believer who was imprisoned for his association with Jesus.  Many believers were imprisoned and even put to death.  

 

Paul mentions Mark in verse 10 as well.  It appears that the Colossians knew about Mark and had certain instructions concerning him if he were to come and visit them.  Here we learn that Mark was the cousin of Barnabas.  You may remember that Paul and Barnabas were sent out as apostles from the Antioch church.  See Acts 13:1 to 3.  Mark went along with them but for some reason that we don't know of left Paul and Barnabas and went home.  Barnabas wanted to take Mark with them on their second trip.  Paul refused that led to Paul and Barnabas going on separate trips.  It's this Mark that wrote the gospel of Mark.  History tells us that all that Mark wrote was told to him from Peter.   

 

In verse 11 Paul makes mention that only a few Jews were with him.  I'm not sure how to take this.  It's almost seems that Paul is saying that many of the Jewish believers might not have stood with him while in prison. 

 

In verse 12 we see Epaphras sending his greetings. Paul says that he was one of the Colossians.  Paul also says that he wrestles in prayer for these believers.  The Greek word "ponos" is the word that is translated as "wrestle" here.  It means "to contend or fight."  It's a present middle participle.  This tells us that within Epaphras was an internal fight going on inside of him, as if he was fighting himself.  I suggest that this is serious prayer, something few of us experience or even consider a valid expression of prayer.  As a youth I saw such prayer by my parent's generation but I've seldom seen it sense.  As Paul says in verse 13, Epaphras is a head working sincere brother in the Lord. 

 

In verse 14 we learn that Luke, the author of the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts is a doctor.  I'm sure that all of the trouble Paul went through he needed the assistance of a doctor at times.  We may not think that such a great man of faith would ever need a doctor, but think about it.  When he was whipped, someone would have to have cared for his torn skin.  Luke would have been that man, at least when he was with Paul.  He was not always with Paul as you can see when you read the book of Acts.

 

Note in verse 15 that a lady named Nympha had what the NIV calls a church in her house.  I prefer to say it this way.  The community of believers in her vicinity gathered together in her home.  The mere mention of this lady tells us that Paul viewed her as an important person in the local community of Christ.   Was she a leader in this community of believers?  We don't know that.  Paul doesn't say.  Paul believed that a woman should not have authority over a man, but women had important places in the Body of Christ.  Her house had to have been large enough for a gathering of at least 30 to 35 people, which from some historical writings seems to be the number of people who might gather in such a house.                          

 

If you are reading with various translations you will note a discrepancy between translations.  Some say that Nympha was a lady while other translations say Nympah was a man.  We should know that the name Nympha is female while the name Nymphas is male.  The male name Nymphas can also be translated as "bridegroom."  The Greek manuscript has the female name Mympha in this sentence, not the male name Mymphas.  However, the problem arises concerning the pronoun "her" in the NIV.  The pronoun "her" is translated from the Greek word "autos", meaning, he, him, himself, or self.   So, the pronoun "autos" is confusing because it doesn't really match the female name Mnmpha, thus the reason for the varying translations.  Some translations actually use the pronoun "their" instead of "him" or "her".                    

 

Verse 16 is interesting.  Paul tells the readers to send this letter to Laodicea after they have read it.  I guess Paul wants to get full use out of the things he writes.  Of course, Laodicea was the next town down the road.  Those saints would have been experiencing the same temptation to follow the Gnostic way of thinking.

 

Paul tells the Colossians to read the letter
be sent to Laodicea.  Well, we do not  have that letter.   It is not found in the Canon 
of Scripture. Itís not found anywhere. This is one of Paulís letters that we know he wrote, but must have been lost along the way in history somewhere.  Wouldnít it be great if we found this letter and could identify it for certain that it was this lost letter.  I wonder what he told those people at Laodicea .  I also wonder how many other letters that Paul wrote that we donít have.  Still I have another wonder.  I wonder if we found this lost letter, and if we could prove that it is indeed the letter to the Laodicians, if people would accept it as Canonical. 

 

In verse 17 Paul exhorts Archippus to finish the work he started.  We really donít know what this means, but we do know that Paul was always thinking about the work of the Lord and doing it, until it was completely finished.  Paulís motivation in life was to do the work of the Lord. 

 

Paul closes this letter by saying that he wrote the greeting part of this letter in his own hand writing.  The greeting part of this letter would be from verse 7 to the end of the letter.  Paul didn't always write these greetings.  Paul normally dictated his letters and sometimes he would write the greetings with his own hand writing and sometimes he wouldn't. 

 

Paul ends by saying, "remember my chains."  One might possibly hear those chains clanging as he moved his hand across the page.  "Grace be with you," Paul writes.  I am sure that these closing words came from the depth of Paulís heart.  He, more than most, understood the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in all of its fullness.                

 

There are two definitions of grace found in the Bible.  The first is well known.  It's God's unmerited favour that He extends to us.  The other is less known.  It's God's divine ability given to us to do His will here on earth.  I believe it is this second definition that Paul might have been thinking of here.  He certainly needed God's divine ability.  If this is not what he had in mind, the first definition would also be appropriate.  Paul would have felt that his calling as an apostle was God's unmerited favour granted to him.  He did not feel he deserved to be used by God in such an important way.        

 

This ends one of Paul's letters.  You see the heart of a man who was suffering much for his association with Jesus.  Even in all of his suffering he was not thinking of himself.  He was thinking of those Jesus had asked him to care for.

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