In 1950 if someone said they “tagged” you, it would be safe to assume you were playing a running game in which someone was “it.” Today if someone tags you, they are probably referring to identifying a picture on social media. In this final passage of the book of Colossians, Paul spends much of his time effectively “tagging” a special list of people. And, at the end, he changes the game and tags us—the modern reader.
- If you were tagging a photo of those in your life whom you hold dear, who would be in the photo and why?
READ THE WORD: COLOSSIANS 4:7-18 (ESV)
7 Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, 9 and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.
10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him), 11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. 14 Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”
18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
- As Paul closed his letter, he took some time to specifically name a few people. What words or phrases did Paul use to describe these people (vss. 7-11)? What does this tell us about the small group of men Paul relied on during his imprisonment in Rome?
- According to verses 12-13, who is Epaphras and what is remarkable about him?
- What are Paul’s instructions in verses 15-17? What does this tell us about the early church?
- Would there be a pastor, or missionary, or minister somewhere who would describe you as a “fellow worker for the kingdom of God,” or “a comfort” to them in their ministry? If not, what practical steps can you take to change that?
RESPOND TO GOD
Paul ends his letter to the Colossians by giving a snapshot of the people who have made his earthly ministry possible, both Jews and Gentiles, including: a slave, a fellow prisoner, and a formerly estranged ministry partner. God works through Christians laboring together to advance his Kingdom, which begs the question: Whom are you helping to advance the cause of Christ? Paul ends his letter by thanking his friends and coworkers, and then he says to Archippus and to the Christians in the following centuries, “Tag, you’re it!” He does this by reminding us that we must “fulfill the ministry that [we] have received in the Lord.”
- Pray that you would truly understand that we are here on earth to be fellow workers for the kingdom of God.
- Ask God for eyes to see where you can come alongside someone who could use your comfort or support as they minister.