Paul's closing words greet his readers on behalf of certain colleagues who are also mentioned in his later Colossian letter and who are no doubt known and perhaps important to the Gentile mission there. Especially important in this regard is Epaphras (v. 23), whose relations with the Colossian church he found to be strained (see commentary on Col 4:12-13) and who is the implied subject of Paul's later Colossians letter (see commentary on Col 1:7).
The reference to him here as my fellow prisoner for Christ Jesus singles him out among the others (v. 24), who are simply fellow workers (see commentary on Col 4:11 and Philem 1). If naming Epaphras a prisoner symbolizes his spiritual valor and vitality, which is likely because for Christ Jesus is added, then Paul's reference to Epaphras may be more than a reference to his physical circumstances. Further, if indeed it is Epaphras, the founder of the Colossian church (see commentary on Col 1:7-8), who greets Philemon, its current leader, then Paul may well be sending a tacit message: be like Epaphras, who is imprisoned for Christ's sake.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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