“You learned [this gospel] from Epaphras, our much loved fellow slave. He is a faithful minister of the Messiah on your behalf, and he has told us about your love in the Spirit.” (Colossians 1:7-8)
A 1,000-piece puzzle with five missing pieces can produce a little frustration. Even so, our minds have a way of filling in those missing pieces so that we know at least what should be there. That’s a little of the way it is with this man named “Epaphras,” though there are probably more pieces missing.
We know very little about this man. We are reasonably sure he was from Colossae. We have no clear record of Paul ever visiting Colossae, which means that Paul met him elsewhere, probably Ephesus, since Paul served there for 3 years. Likely Paul led Epaphras to the Lord in Ephesus and for some time mentored and discipled him. Either Paul dispatched Epaphras to Colossae, or Epaphras made the decision himself to return. Either way he ended up back in Colossae, where he had a major role in the church that was started there. He may have started it, or it may have been Barnabas, who was mentioned at the end of the letter. Maybe he even worked with Barnabas.
Though we know little about this man for certain, one lesson we draw from his life is that anyone who belongs to the Lord and serves Him has a life of significance. Significance does not come from what is known about someone. It comes from knowing the Lord. The psalmist knew this when he wrote about those servants of the Lord who lift their hands before the Lord in the temple by night. Anyone who belongs to Jesus has a life of significance, and any Christian can serve in His church and in His kingdom’s work to help encourage and strengthen others. It only takes the resolve of faith to do so.
Thank You, Lord, for igniting the fires of significance in our lives through Your Spirit who dwells within. Amen.