Thursday, 8 June 2017
Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. Colossians 4:12
Paul now re-introduces Epaphras whom he calls “one of you.” He was a fellow of those at Colossae and obviously well known to them. He was an evangelist, having taught the word of the Lord to those at Colossae. This was seen in verse 1:7. He is also called “a bondservant of Christ.” It is a title which Paul uses of himself elsewhere, as do both James and Jude. One other person that Paul calls a bondservant is Timothy. It is true that all Christians are servants of the Lord, but this term is certainly being used in these five instances as a particular designation. What is possible is that the others, like Paul, would often refuse wages for the work they accomplished. This is speculation only, however.
This Epaphras “greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers.” The word “fervently” is agónizomai. It means “to struggle” as a person would in an athletic competition, reaching for a prize with all their might. One can see a hint of the word agonize in it. The prayers of Epaphras were as if in such a struggle. He so cared about those he was praying for that it was as if a struggle existed, and he was going to obtain the prize by making his petitions in a favorable manner. This was his intent so that, as Paul says, “you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”
The idea which we obtain from these words is that those he was praying for would be found perfect in their doctrine, not mixing in false philosophies or other errors. In this, they would be able to be fully pleasing to God in all ways. The idea of one “standing” in the Bible is that of being firm and fixed. When a wind blows, a person can get toppled over. But the prayers of Epaphras were that they would be able to stand against every wind of doctrine, and not be tossed about by the trickery of false teachings. To stand in this perfect way would then show them complete in all the will of God, meaning every precept by which the Christian should live. This was his great hope for those he cherished at Colossae.
Life application: How fervently do you pray for others. There are true prayer warriors out there who literally weep over those they pray for. And then there are those who say they will pray and then never do. Between the two there are certainly many different levels. What we should each do is to attempt to move up the ladder of intensity until we are mature as people of prayer, able to pour out our hearts to God in sincere hope that He will hear and respond to our petitions.
Heavenly Father, help us to be people who are sincere in our prayers. If we say we will pray for someone, help us to follow through with that. And help us to remember that our prayers are never to be mixed with unbelievers or those who pray to false gods. You alone are God, and You alone are to be exalted through the offering of prayer. May we never implicitly condone a false religion by condoning the prayers of those who practice those false religions. Help us in our prayer life always. Amen.