Sunday, 11 June 2017
Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house. Colossians 4:15
What seems like a simple and easy to understand verse is actually a bit complicated. First, Paul says to “Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea.” In verse 16, he will say, “also in the church of the Laodiceans.” It is argued by some then that this is a special body of Christians which are being referred to here. Others feel it simply refers to all of the Christians in Laodicea in both verses. Individually, they are “the brethren,” and collectively they would be “the church.” It’s hard to be dogmatic, but that makes complete sense. It would be like saying, “Pass along our greetings to any brethren you meet, and be sure to greet the church as a whole.”
He then says, “and Nymphas.” Who Nymphas is cannot be determined. This is the only mention of the name in the Bible. And further, it isn’t known if this is a male or a female, or if this is the full name or a shortening of a longer Greek name. From there, Paul goes on to mention “the church that is in his house.” Again, there are disputes between manuscripts. Some say “his house,” some say “her house,” and some say “their house.” If “their,” then it would be speaking of Nymphas and the family. Again, it’s hard to be dogmatic, but scholars put their trust in one manuscript or another and will often, dogmatically, claim to be correct. Nothing is lost in doctrine by any possibility.
The same term of “church that is in their (your) house” is used in Romans 16:5 and 1 Corinthians 16:19 – both speaking of Aquila and Priscilla. It is also mentioned in Philemon 1:2 when speaking of the church in the house of Philemon. The word simply means “a general assembly.” Wherever the saints gathered to meet, fellowship, study, etc., that was considered the church. This is the idea which is seen here.
Life application: Way too often, we spend our time worrying about the church building we attend in relation to our walk with the Lord – as if it is the source of our walk. But this is incorrect. The gathering together of the brethren, in any place, can be the church to us. As long as it is focused on a right application of the word of God, then we can consider it to be our church. The walls of a building do not define our walk with the Lord, but rather that which occurs within whatever walls is the church. Today with the internet, the church can be a gathering of people in that way – streaming on line as a single body. Just keep the word and proper worship of the Lord at the center of the meeting, and you will be in the sweet spot.
Lord God, we thank You for the churches we attend. Help us to be active in upholding the word of God and being obedient to its precepts wherever we meet. If the place we meet fails to adhere to Your word, and starts deviating down nutty or perverted paths, help us to see this and either get things straightened out, or to get up and get out. A heart for obedience to You is far more important than meeting with a bunch of people who have no heart for obedience to Your word. Help us in this. Amen.