“The name’s Epaphras!”
Do you ever lose sight of the power of God through discipleship? I know we talk about discipleship here often enough. Most people who come to CFC would say that they’ve seen a graphic with something about discipleship on it. My great hope is that our members would know the mission statement by heart: We glorify God by making disciples of all people.
As we begin our new series of study through Colossians this weekend, I was reminded again how this church came to be in the providence of God. Honestly, Colossae was not a very important city by Paul’s contemporary standards. It was formerly more important, but in Paul’s day it was the equivalent to a small country town. Agrarian and disinteresting--how did this place earn a spot in what God preserved for us in scripture?
We get a glimpse of what set things in motion from Acts 19. It was while Paul was staying in Ephesus (he stayed there longer than anywhere else) that we see the seeds of the gospel start to spread throughout the region we know now as Turkey. Ephesus, unlike Colossae, was a very important coastal town with many people and points to access the world as Paul knew it. Luke’s account of his time in Ephesus points this out:
Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God. But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way. So Paul left the synagogue and took the believers with him. Then he held daily discussions at the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for the next two years, so that people throughout the province of Asia—both Jews and Greeks—heard the word of the Lord.
Most likely, a man named Epaphras attended these meetings and became a disciple of Jesus. Paul mentions him in the letter to the Colossians by calling Epaphras “a member of your own fellowship” in verse 4:12. Most likely it was Epaphras who left Ephesus with the gospel message and shared it with his fellow Colossians in the province of Asia. The Lord gave him success, and a church was started in that town.
Even though Paul was better equipped to preach and teach, he was limited in the scope of his travels. For all we know, Paul never did visit the Colossians, but his influence came to them through a member of their own community. Epaphras had enough of what Paul and the Holy Spirit imparted to him for a faith community to be born.
I recount this for you to simply remind you that you have no idea how God will use your faithfulness in sharing the gospel and leading others up the faith path. You just might be talking to an Epaphras.