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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Colossians 4:12-13 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.

Epaphras was one of Paul's close friends and co-workers. Both faithfully labored together for the cause of Christ. From references found in the bible, we learn that Epaphras was from the city of Colosse, and was introduced in the lesson text as one of you. He was probably instrumental in establishing the church of Christ in this city, as well as other cities of Asia Minor (Laodicea and Hierapolis are mentioned here). We know that he visited Paul while he was imprisoned in Rome, was probable arrested, and also imprisoned there. He was referred to by Paul as my fellow-prisoner in Christ Jesus (Philemon 23). In his letter to the church at Colosse, Paul calls Epaphras a dear fellow-servant and a faithful minister of Christ (Col. 1:7).

Epaphras is described in the lesson text as always laboring fervently for you in prayers. He was extremely concerned for the physical and spiritual welfare of the brethren of the church at Colosse, always laboring and praying fervently for them. "Fervently" carries with it the meaning of intense earnestness; a burning, intense, and passionate desire for their salvation. No higher complement could be paid to any member of a congregation of God's children. No doubt, Epaphras was convinced, as was James when he wrote the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16b).

Epaphras is further described as being zealous for the Christians at Colosse, and, also, for them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis. Laodicea was the capital of Phrygia. Both Colosse and Hierapolis were located nearby within this same province of Asia Minor. Epaphras had great zeal for the churches of Christ in these cities of his homeland. Ardor, fervor, eagerness, enthusiasm, devotion, and passion are terms that describe the zeal he had for his fellow Christians.

The reason for Epaphras' fervent labor, prayers, and zeal was, that these Christian brethren could and would stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. Used here,"stand"does not mean to take an upright, erect position or stance. Rather, the meaning here is that these brethren were to stand fast, to remain firm in their belief and obedience to the will of God. Paul uses similar language when he wrote stand fast (in the word of God) (2 Thess. 2:15), stand fast in the Lord (Phil. 4:1), and stand fast in the faith (1 Cor. 16:13).

For the Chrisitians of Colosse to be perfect and complete in all the will of God, means that they had believed, submitted to, and performed the initial acts of obedience, that put them into the body of Christ; but also that they continued to live a Christian life, that would lead to eternal salvation. Only perfection in Christ can result in eternal salvation. And perfection can only be achieved when the complete will of God is obeyed. The brethren at Colosse, as well as all Christians of the world, can not be pleasing to God with "partial" obedience.

Christian perfection, as a requirement for salvation, is not optional. It is a command! Jesus said be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father, which is in heaven, is perfect (Matt. 5:48). Perfection does not mean sinlessness, for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). A perfect and complete Christian is a forgiven Christian, one that has been spiritually cleansed by baptism into the body of Christ, and thereafter, one that continually seeks God's forgiveness of sins, through the avenue of prayer. It is by these Christian acts of obedience one ceases to be conformed to this world, and is transformed into a citizen of the kingdom of God,by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Rom. 12:2b).

Indeed, it is the prayer of Epaphras, Paul, and all other disciples of Christ; it is the prayer of every Christian preacher, teacher, and child of God; it is the prayer of Jesus Christ, Himself, made on behalf of all Christians,that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.