Scripture: Colossians 1:1-14
Key verse: (7) “This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant.”
Reflection: According to the New Oxford Annotated Bible, “Colossae was a town of Phrygia in Asia Minor, not far from Ephesus. The church in Colossae had been founded, not by Paul, but probably by Epaphras.” This is based on the reference made to Epaphras in v. 7 of today’s reading. He is mentioned again at the end of the epistle, and he is also included in Philemon. Here is an ancient iconic image of Epaphras:
The name is said to mean, “charming or lovely.” Not many in European culture are named after this founding saint of Colossae. He doesn’t make any litanies of saints, and yet it is clear that without him there may not have been a church in Colossae. Pail describes him as, “our beloved faithful servant,” and, “a faithful minister of Christ.” Not a bad way to be remembered in sacred scripture!
Who was your Epaphras? From whom did you “hear of this hope in the word of truth?” Who brought you to faith? My guess is we could all name a number of Epaphrases in our lives. As we move toward Mother’s Day this Sunday, I’m thankful my Mom saw that I was baptized at Rockville United Methodist Church, and that she cared enough to take me to church from time to time, though I’m not sure much of her efforts stuck with me then. My wife, Jennifer, is a huge reason my faith grew. After college I got involved in a Bible study because church was important to her, and I knew I had a lot to learn. K.C. Ptomey was the pastor who led that Bible study. He changed my life, encouraging me to consider a call to ministry. I was blessed by many good teachers, including Walter Brueggemann and Shirley Guthrie. I’m so thankful for the hope they shared with me “in the word of truth.”
Who was your Epaphras? One thing is certain, none of us come to faith on our own. God provides people along the way to point us in the right direction. This day, take a moment to consider who those people have been for you. Who knows, perhaps you are that person for someone else!
Prayer: Thank you, O God, for Epaphras in my life; for those who have guided me on the journey of faith, who opened to me your word of truth, who showed me what the life of faith is all about. Fill me with your Holy Spirit this day, that I might be a witness to the hope we can only find in the word of truth we know in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].