The Central Point: Let Epaphras Be Your Example (1:7-8)
A third "just as" clause (omitted by the NIV) issues in the prayer's vertex, where Paul's pivotal point is made (see the discussion of chiasmus, above): the fruit proper to the hearing and understanding of the gospel is exemplified by the evangelist Epaphras (see "The Crisis at Colosse" in the introduction). In another sense, Paul's pastoral concern provides his readers with a personal illustration of his earlier triad: Epaphras is faith, love and hope in action. Thus, his faith in Christ Jesus (1:4) is embodied in his work as a faithful minister of Christ; his love for all the saints (1:4) is embodied in his support of Paul and ministry to the Colossians (Lohse 1976:23; compare Rom 5:5; 15:30; Gal 5:22); finally, his ministry, through which the Colossians learned the good news of God's grace, has grounded them in their hope that is stored up . . . in heaven (1:5). Epaphras, then, is the exemplary mediator of the message. He illustrates what Paul insists upon: that the good news about God's salvation in Christ must be proclaimed.
I am not at all convinced of the value of "church growth" strategies that encourage church planting without evangelism; nor am I convinced of the value of expository preaching that fails to call the congregation to conversion and spiritual renewal by the simple preaching of the gospel. Even mature believers must be reminded with some regularity of the truth that calls people to Christ. Central to Paul's definition of the church is its missionary activity: we must be a people of the gospel. Paul contends that the preaching of the gospel yields a healthy harvest in the congregation's spiritual life. The ministry of evangelism is prudent not only because it illumines the truth about Christ and leads people into Christ, but also because there, in Christ, lives and relationships are transformed. The example of Epaphras reminds believers that the ministry of evangelism can revitalize the whole church, making it stronger and even more productive for the Lord.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
Upgrade to remove banner ads and unlock new features!
For the best Bible Gateway experience, consider an upgrade to Bible Gateway Plus. For less than the cost of a latte each month, you'll get reduced banner ads and a huge digital Bible study library. Try it free for 30 days!