Epaphras

Letter Carrier and More

Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. Colossians 4:12

Although the apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he touched many people—even us today—with his letters. He couldn’t post these letters at the nearest post office and had to depend on others to convey them. One man who served Paul in this way was Epaphras, who had begun a church in Colosse and served as their minister. He carried letters to and from Paul and the various churches.

Epaphras, a shortened form of Epaphroditus, probably heard the message about Christ when Paul stayed in Ephesus for three years and many in the surrounding area became believers (see Acts 19:1-10).

When Epaphras brought gifts to Paul from the church at Philippi, Paul wrote back, “I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:18-19).

Paul knew Epaphras as a servant, coworker, messenger, and soldier. He called Epaphras “a bondservant of Christ.” This is a servant who could go free because his debt had been paid, but who chose to continue working for his master out of love. Paul applied this word bondservant to himself, but never to anyone else, except here and when he speaks of himself and Timothy (Philippians 1:1).

Epaphras wrestled in prayer. The word Paul used meant “to contend, struggle, with difficulties and dangers; to endeavor with strenuous zeal, strive to obtain something.” [1] His prayer was not just for those in Colosse, but also for the people in all the other places the letter would be circulated—Laodicea, Hierapolis and Phillipi. (Colossians 4:12-13).

In Paul’s letter to Philemon, he called himself a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and said, “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings (Philemon 1:1, 23). He probably had been imprisoned with Paul. Epaphras risked his life by visiting Paul in Rome. He knew the risks, yet continued to serve Paul and the churches faithfully.

How fervently do you serve Christ, especially if it might mean persecution or death?

Dig Deeper

Read James 5:16-17 and 1 Kings 18:21-46. Who else prayed fervent and effective prayers? Why do you think their prayers were effective?

Read Revelation 3:14-22. How did Jesus characterize this church later? How would you apply verses 20-22? Is this teaching just for new believers? Why or why not?

Can you quote  Philippians 4:18-19 picturing yourself in prison for sharing your faith? How has God supplied all your needs even in difficult circumstances?

Nancy J. Baker

This devotion is part of a series on Not-As-Famous Men and Women of the Bible.

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[1] wrestled https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g75/kjv/tr/0-1/