NKJV - 7 As you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf.
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"Epaphras" is mentioned only 3 times in the bible, in Colossians 1:7 & 4:12 & in Philemon 1:23. However, a similar name with the same etymology, "Epaphroditus" is mentioned in 2 other verses, in Philippians 2:25 & 4:18. Biblical names can be tricky. J. B. Lightfoot said in his commentary on Philippians, "Epaphras" is a name that appeared frequently "in inscriptions both Greek & Latin" meaning it was likely they were two different men. But Matthew Henry seemed to believe otherwise (see his commentaries on Philippians, Colossians, Philemon) so it has often been debated whether Epaphras & Epaphroditus were one & the same. There is not sufficient evidence to substantiate either premise, so to continue the debate is a waste of time. (1 Tim 1:3-5 & 1 Tim 6:3-5) But, whether they were one in the same or two different men, Paul's recognition of the faithfulness & total submission to the work of the Gospel put the name (names) into the bible for us to see. In Colossians 1:7, the Apostle Paul says of Epaphras, that he is a "faithful minister of Christ" & he had declared to Paul & Timothy the love that those in Colosse had in the Spirit. In Colossians 4:12, Paul mentions Epaphras again saying he is one of them, "a bondservant of Christ", meaning he is a believer in Christ who is fully submitted to Him. In Philemon 1:23, Paul refers to Epaphras as a "fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus" which again shows his faithfulness as a Christian. In Philippians 2:25 & 4:18, Paul refers to Epaphroditus as being a brother, a fellow worker, a fellow soldier & one who has been used of the LORD to bring perhaps a word of comfort & a few small necessities. Paul rarely bothered anyone asking for anything. He firmly believed that GOD would & did supply all of his needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. So his recognition of this gift demonstrated his own humility. Generally, those that were given recognition by the apostle were prayer warriors. They gave themselves fully to prayer for him, for other believers & for the spreading of Christ's gospel. That is the pattern we should all follow today.
Epaphras (Colossians 1:7) evangelized the Colossians with the Gospel and planted the church in their city. Here, Paul gave his stamp of approval on Epaphras' life, ministry and gospel ("our dear fellow servant" and "for a faithful minister of Christ"). In Colossians 4:12 Paul also refers to Epaphras as "who is one of you", meaning he was a Colossian. Paul further said that Epaphras was laboring over the Colossians in prayers that they may come before God's heavenly presence in a morally perfect state. Epaphras was also a fellow prisoner in Christ with Paul (Philemon 23).
Epaphras (Greek: Ἐπαφράς) was a Christian preacher who spread the Gospel to his fellow Colossian citizens (Col. 1:7; 4:12). When Paul was a prisoner in Rome, Epaphras came to him with a favourable account of the Church at Colossae. He remained with Paul in Rome and was, in a sense, his "fellow prisoner" (Philemon 1:23). Paul bears witness to the struggling in his prayers for Colossae and his work of service there and in Laodicea and Hierapolis. (Colossians 4:12-13)
I have read the answers above and they are super! It is in his prayer-ministry most of all, though, that Epaphras is unusual. This giant in prayer knew how to lay all before the Lord, and praying in secret, made the saints be perfect and complete in their standing through his kneeling. May we labor secretly in prayer, too, as we intercede for other Christians. He “strove earnestly in his prayers” for the Colossians. He wrestled in prayer that they might be perfect in the perfection of Christ, and “fully assured in all the will of God.” May our Christian leaders testify to our persistence in prayer like our brother, Epaphras. We, like he, now know how to toil on behalf of the saints of God. He as well as we can be practical as well as prayerful.
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