Thanksgiving and prayer: Part 2 of 3 (series: Lessons on Colossians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

7 YOU LEARNED IT FROM EPAPHRAS, OUR DEAR FELLOW SERVANT (OR SLAVE), WHO IS A FAITHFUL MINISTER OF CHRIST ON OUR (SOME MANUSCRIPTS YOUR) BEHALF,


“YOU LEARNED IT FROM EPAPHRAS,”
The Colossians owe their knowledge of the Gospel to Epaphras, who had evangelized Colossae under Paul’s direction and whom Paul calls “our beloved fellow servant,” or “slave”; that is, our partner in that voluntary bondage to Christ; to serve Him is the only true freedom.

We cannot tell today who this Epaphras was; but it is likely that he was a Colossian, and became, by the call and grace of Christ, a deacon of this Church, who faithfully worked side-by-side with the apostle. Some think he is the Epaphroditus of another passage; Epaphras being a contraction of that name, like Demas is of Demetrius. It appears evident from Colossians 4:12{TL7.1] that this Epaphras was a citizen of Colossae, and Paul adds that he is . . .

“OUR DEAR FELLOW-SERVANT”
This shows that Paul had developed a strong friendship with Epaphras. There is no reason to believe that he had known him before, but his acquaintance with him now had served to attach him strongly to the apostle. It is possible, as has been conjectured, that there was a party in the church at Colossae opposed to Epaphras and to the doctrines which he preached, and if this were so, Paul‘s strong expression of attachment to him would do much to silence the opposition.

“A FAITHFUL MINISTER OF CHRIST.”
Some think that he was the first to preach the Gospel among these people, and therefore he is called an apostle. He lived among them, and was trained by Paul to be their minister in the absence of the apostle, and he showed himself to be worthy of this calling by a faithful discharge of his ministry, and by laboring zealously for them, and by urging them forward, so that they might stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

WHO IS A FAITHFUL MINISTER OF CHRIST ON OUR BEHALF,
Epaphras is described here as “A FAITHFUL MINISTER”; the designation of minister was a title he had in common with many others, whereas the praise of faithfulness was given to only a few. It is all that the apostle required in a good steward of the house of God―“This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2). To have this praise the minister of God must―
1. Seek the glory of his Master, and not his own.
2. Obey his Master; not stingily concealing from his sheep any of the things committed to him for their edification; and without setting before them anything of his own invention beyond, or contrary to, the will of the chief Shepherd.

The Church ought, therefore, to love their minister for the dignity of his office, and for the benefits that their association with him has brought to them. For though we are bound to love and respect all the faithful servants of God in general, yet, no doubt, we owe them particular affection and reverence who especially consecrate their ministry to our edification.

[TL7.1} “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)

8 AND WHO ALSO TOLD US OF YOUR LOVE IN THE SPIRIT.

Paul is continuing to heap praise on his fellow-servant, whom he says “ALSO TOLD US OF YOUR LOVE IN THE SPIRIT”; the love wrought in you by the Holy Spirit. It was not mere natural affection, but love worked in their hearts by the work of the Holy Spirit. The love of which the apostle speaks is love IN the spirit. What is this spirit? Spirit which is equivalent to spiritual love? To be more precise, Paul means love in the Spirit of God, love which He teaches and inspires. But this does not exclude the former. For our spirit is the better part of us which the Spirit of God has come to set at liberty, that part of our being which holds communion with God. This love, then, is--
1. According to the Holy Spirit.
2. A spiritual love towards the true, just, divine, immortal.

Some would print “spirit” with a small letter, as though referring to the human spirit of Paul’s readers. We take the Revised Standard Version to be right in thinking of their love as inspired by the Holy Spirit, which is
“the life of God in the soul of man,” making Christians aware of God’s love for them (Romans 5:5{TL8.1) and prompting them in turn to love the brethren. Doesn’t Paul set love first among the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and declare it the greatest of all spiritual gifts? (1 Corinthians 13).

The greatest example of this love is Christ. In Him, we know what love is, but it was manifested in Him, so that it might be diffused. His disciples are to reflect His love.

Hell is the absence of this love. It is that empty heart which

has been violently severed from its affections without being united to God, a heart which has need of love, and which finds no object to supply this want.



[TL8.1} “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

9 FOR THIS REASON, SINCE THE DAY WE HEARD ABOUT YOU, WE HAVE NOT STOPPED PRAYING FOR YOU. WE CONTINUALLY ASK GOD TO FILL YOU WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL THROUGH ALL THE WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING THAT THE SPIRIT GIVES (or all spiritual wisdom and understanding),

Paul’s special object of supplication is now revealed. He prayed “we continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the spirit gives” (Compare Ephesians 1:17.). Paul desired for the Colossians to have a complete knowledge of the divine will of God in all its revealed elements and aspects. He wanted them to have perfect, complete knowledge of God’s perfect will for them, which will result in corresponding moral conduct. Every Christian should desire to know God’s perfect will for his or her life.

If God fills a believer with the knowledge of His divine will, certainly the sphere of the spiritual vision is enlarged. The mind of such a believer is trained and taught in divine things. The birthright of every believer is enjoyment of the Spirit of light in his life. The enjoyment of the Spirit of light is a special privilege, a singular blessing belonging to all believers who will yield unreservedly to God.

When a believer completely yields to the divine will of God and permits God to fill him with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, God then removes the mist which obscures the inner vision of that believer. . . A mist which hinders spiritual understanding and robs the believer of the depth of great spiritual truths and promises laid down in God’s holy Word. When a person is completely yielded to God’s divine will, God gives to that person a deep love for divine truth and a deep, burning desire for a better understanding of that truth. When the believer is so completely yielded, such surrender enables him to see through the spiritual eye of understanding, and thereby receive blessings that the average Christian knows nothing about. “Oh, God! Give to us spiritual understanding.”

Notice the little word, “all” . . . “all the wisdom and (all) understanding.” Wisdom and spiritual understanding are not limited. They may be enjoyed by the surrendered believer to their utmost bounds—and heaven only knows the bounds of God’s wisdom and spiritual understanding. “Christ is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).

10 SO THAT YOU MAY LIVE A LIFE WORTHY OF THE LORD AND PLEASE HIM IN EVERY WAY: BEARING FRUIT IN EVERY GOOD WORK, GROWING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD,

To “live a life worthy of the Lord” means to love Him so much, and to cherished and worship Him, so that the very image of Him is continually before us. To “live a life (Or to walk) worthy of the Lord” means to yield to His Spirit and to live in such harmony with the Spirit that we will exhibit His purity, His piety, His humility, His love and His very life. We are to walk in His steps; we are to get into the yoke with Jesus and walk beside Him.

Paul prayed that the Colossians would “bear fruit in every good work, and grow in the knowledge of God,” live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way.” The greatest pleasure for the Lord Jesus is to see Himself—His own likeness—in those who accept His Lordship in every phase of their life . . . in their thoughts, and their actions, in their purpose in life, in everything they do. His desire for His children is that we walk worthy of him, and by so doing secure His approval. “Whether therefore we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do,” let us do it all to the Glory of God. We should never do anything selfishly or for vain-glory.

Paul wanted them to be believers interested in and performing every good work. . . “and increasing in the knowledge of God.” True knowledge of God is the only food that will bring about spiritual growth. The more we learn about our God the more we know of His love, His power, His longsuffering, His grace and His majesty. The more we trust Him the more confidence we will have in Him, and the more confidently we will rest our life—past, present, and future—in His hands. The more we know about Him the deeper our own experience with Him will be. We will lean upon His arm anytime we need strength. We will rest upon His bosom and confide in Him in every phase of life. The more we know about Him the more we will love and trust Him, the more we will grow in spiritual things, and the more we will enjoy our spiritual life. If we would walk worthy of our Christ, this fruit-bearing and knowledge set forth in verse 10 must be our experience.



Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to John Lowe Sermons.

The Preaching Ezine

Click Here!

Subscribe to my free newsletter for monthly sermons and get a free book right now. Just follow the link above and get the details!


Ministry Leads

Click Here!

Anybody else want more leads and prospects for your Church, Ministry, or School, as well as, a means to follow up and communicate automatically?
Just follow the link above and get the details!


YOUR PAGES:


Your Web Page:
Want your own sermon web page? You can have one!
Your Outlines:
Share YOUR skeleton outlines.
Your Illustrations:
Share YOUR Illustrations.
YOUR SERMONS:
Encourage other ministers
by sharing
YOUR great sermons!
YOUR POEMS:
Encourage us all
by sharing
YOUR great poems!