You have probably never heard of Epaphras. If you are a person who reads the Bible, the name may sound familiar, but you might not be able to place him. There are probably thousands of such names in the Bible. People who are mentioned in passing, but we just don't know much about them. While we may recognize that they at least made it into the Bible, it can reinforce their insignificance. But we should know by now that no one is insignificant.
The apostle Paul was involved in many ministries around the world. Some he started, others he came alongside to help. Along the way he wrote letters of encouragement and challenge. Some of these actually became books of our Bible. They were generally written to whole churches, or even groups of churches in an area. The first church would read it aloud in the congregation, someone would copy it down, and they would pass along the original to the next church. He would often end these letters with greetings to certain people, or instructions to certain others. Sometimes they would include updates about mutual friends.
Epaphras was one of these people. In the book of Colossians we find this section...
"Epaphras, who is one of you, a slave of Christ Jesus, greets you. He is always contending for you in his prayers, so that you can stand mature and fully assured in everything God wills. For I testify about him that he works hard for you, for those in Laodicea, and for those in Hierapolis." (Colossians 4:12-13)
Now, Epaphras wasn't a one-hit wonder. He was also mentioned in the first part of that letter. "You have already heard about this hope in the message of truth, the gospel that has come to you. It is bearing fruit and growing all over the world, just as it has among you since the day you heard it and recognized God’s grace in the truth. You learned this from Epaphras, our dearly loved fellow slave. He is a faithful servant of the Messiah on your behalf, and he has told us about your love in the Spirit." (Colossians 1:5-8)
And in Philemon we find this mention... "Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you." (Philemon 1:23)
So Epaphras doesn't take up a lot of space in Scripture. But what we can see in the three passages is that he was a true follower of Jesus. I mean, Paul vouched for his relationship with the Lord. Come on. We also know that Epaphras was close to Paul. He was a fellow minister, working in the church at Colosse. He was a man who loved his people dearly, and apparently was glad to talk about their spiritual successes. He was a man who took the ministry seriously and taught the true doctrines of Christ, desiring the people in his care to become strong and stable in their walk with Christ. He apparently came to Paul with some ministry issues, because Paul is reinforcing his worth to the body of Christ. At some point, he was imprisoned for his work in the Gospel. And Epaphras was a man of prayer who would go into combat with the enemy for the sake of his friends.
You see... Epaphras was not just a footnote in Christian history. He was known and loved by many, and he left a legacy of spiritual warfare and leadership. He was a faithful man of God. There are no footnotes in history... only faithful and unfaithful people. Everyone is their own book. The question is, what story are we writing? What story is God writing through us? What are we doing for the Kingdom of God? What do people know about us? What do they say about us? The people whose opinion matters in eternity. What will people say of us when we are gone?
You may not have known about Epaphras before today, but I'll bet you've heard of Jezebel. So obviously fame isn't the goal. Hidden faithfulness trumps famous wickedness every day of the week.
There are thousands of such people in the Bible... people who are not main players. Many times we just scroll over them. But God used them. Now, sometimes these people were not very good people. They were examples of what not to be as Epaphras was an example of a Godly person. But the fact is, most of us are less King David, and more 'just David'. There are a few Pauls, but more Epaphrases. That's okay. I'll be honest... if people can say of me, "David is always contending for you in his prayers, so that you can stand mature and fully assured in everything God wills. For I testify about him that he works hard for you," I would be quite satisfied.
I hope you can see that God is looking for faithfulness. And not just faithfulness to Him... but faithfulness for others. Not only are people watching you, but they need you to be faithfully praying for them. Do I pray for others as faithfully as I pray for myself? Am I as generous with the spiritual walk of others as I am with my own? Do I care about the spiritual welfare of others like I do about my own? Do I see that we all in the body are connected? Am I living connected to God and my fellow man?
Today you will add to, or take away from your story. Think about those who have faithfully contended for you before the throne of God as well as at the gates of Hell. And then think about those who need you to be their Epaphras. Be faithful. Be loving. Be for others what you want someone to be for you. No one may know your name in 2000 years, but it isn't your name that will matter, is it?
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My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.