Friday, April 03, 2015


These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me.  (Colossians 4:11b)

In 1987 a busload of Baptist youth plunged into the rain-swollen Guadalupe River in central Texas.  Although some perished, many survived.  The teens formed a human chain, and as a result were able to struggle to safety, holding each others hands.  The reality is that all of us need help at times.  The genius of the church is that it offers those who will link up with us and we can help each other in this struggle against the current of a culture under the curse that is sweeping many away.  Even a spiritual champion like Paul needed a team of people to assist him.  He mentions them in Colossians 4:7-18.

There are FAITHFUL HELPERS in the church.  The word, “faithful” jumps out at us.  It is used to describe Tychichus (v.7) and Onesimus (v.9).  Although the term is not repeated, the theme is present in some other fellow-laborers named here: Aristarchus (v.10a), Mark (v.10b), Jesus Justus (v.11), Luke (v.14a), Nymphas (v.15), and Archippus (v.17).  We will provide a quick thumbnail sketch of each.

Tychichus accompanied Paul on his third missionary journey.  He stuck with Paul, even in his imprisonment.  He showed the greatest ability—dependability!

Onesimus was the runaway slave of Philemon.  He ran from his master, but couldn’t run away from God.  He was likely converted when sharing the same jail cell with the Apostle.  Church history tells us he became the pastor of the Colossian church.

Aristarchus was another member of Paul’s “cell group.”  He shared in Paul’s suffering.  That is the nature of loyalty.  We should all have friends like that—and be one!

Mark had deserted Paul and Barnabas in their first missionary journey.  When his kinsman, Barnabas, wanted to give him another chance on the second trip, the two missionaries split up over Mark.  It is good to see the relationship was  later restored.

Jesus Justus was a Jew like Paul, and effective in showing concern and extending comfort.  He had a proven record of sympathy and support of God’s servant.

Luke was Paul’s personal physician.  He was a careful historian who documented the life of Christ and the work of the Spirit in the early church.  Luke was loyal to the finish.

Nymphas hosted the church in his home.  He had the gift of hospitality.

Archippus may have been a discouraged pastor.  As he had held up the hands of others, now he could reap what he had sown.  We get by with a little help from our friends!

There are FERVENT INTERCESSORS like Epaphras (v.12-13).  One of the best ways people help hold our hands is by praying for us.  He had walked in their shoes.  Identifying with others helps us pray compassionately.  It is noted that he also prayed consistently—agonizing in prayer—for the word used here is the same one that describes Christ’s passionate prayer in Gethsemane.  His consuming plea was for the saints to mature in their faith.  That doesn’t happen without someone praying for us.

There are FALTERING WORKERS like Demas (v.14b).  I hate to end on a sour note—but the reality is that just as some of those teens in the Texas flood did not make it, there will be those despite our best efforts to hold their hand, pull away—and drown in sin.  Demas would be one (see 2 Tim.4:10).  His life is a warning to us: “Hold on to Christ!”

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