Paul asked Tychicus to let the Colossians know how he was doing. Now he greets the Colossians on behalf of the believers who asked to him to do so. There are six in total. Three of them are of Jewish descent (“of the circumcision”) and the other three are non-Jewish. The conveying of greetings shows that these brothers are connected to the Colossians, just as Paul is, and that they also shared his concern for them. That Paul conveys their greetings is proof that they supported his work. Greetings therefore are much more than just a formality. Whoever sends greetings shows that there is a connection between him and the ones to whom he sends the greetings. This also shows the appreciation of the connection.
V1010Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas’s cousin Mark (about whom you receivedinstructions; if he comes to you, welcome him);. Paul appreciates each servant who worked with him. He calls Aristarchus “my fellow prisoner”. He was with Paul on the ship that brought him as a prisoner to Rome (Acts 27:22And embarking in an Adramyttian ship, which was about to sail to the regions along the coast of Asia, we put out to sea accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica.). It was a great comfort for Paul to have this man as his companion in his difficult circumstances (verse 1111and [also] Jesus who is called Justus; these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision, and they have proved to be an encouragement to me.). It is really a comfort when someone comes to you when you are in trouble, just to be with you.
Paul also has a special relationship with Mark. This Mark is “Barnabas’s cousin”. Paul does not say this simply in pretence. Mark, in fact, was once the cause of separation between Paul and Barnabas. When you read the passages wherever Mark appears in the Acts, you can reconstruct the story (Acts 12:12,2512And when he realized [this], he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.25And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, taking along with [them] John, who was also called Mark.; 13:1313Now Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia; but John left them and returned to Jerusalem.; 15:37-3937Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also.38But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.39And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.).
Paul was not willing to take Mark on the journey he wanted to make with Barnabas. Mark travelled with him on a previous occasion, but gave up at a certain point. Sometimes fellow workers can abandon us. Barnabas felt the earlier failure of Mark was no reason to leave him behind this time. Mark was his nephew and that could possibly be the reason why Barnabas chose him.
In the meantime a change must have taken place in Mark, perhaps because of the pastoral care of Barnabas. Now Paul regarded Mark helpful in his ministry (2Tim 4:1111Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.). He already informed the Colossians about Mark and instructed them to accept him.
V1111and [also] Jesus who is called Justus; these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision, and they have proved to be an encouragement to me.. In all the letters of Paul, it is only here that we come across the name Jesus, Justus. Jesus was a common name in those days. Even today this name is common in some countries. People rather called him Justus as he and his fellow Christians probably thought that it was not right to have the same name as the Son of God.
It is quite possible that these three men, before they came to faith in the Lord Jesus, had a different expectation of the kingdom of God. If they were devout Jews they would have expected that the Messiah established His kingdom in glory. Now after their conversion they would have understood that the kingdom of God was not yet publicly visible, and what the kingdom in its present form meant (Rom 14:1717for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.). Their fellowship for the kingdom of God meant consolation (a minimization of pain which is the literal meaning of the Greek word) for Paul.
V1212Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you maystandperfect andfully assured in all the will of God.. Epaphras also greets the Colossians. Paul calls Epaphras “a bondslave of Jesus Christ”, a term he usually used only for himself and Timothy. This tells us something about the spiritual attitude of this faithful servant. He is a preacher of the Word (Col 1:77just as you learned [it] from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf,), but Paul also knows him as a praying man and knows how this man prays. Paul must have heard more often how insistently Epaphras brought his prayer before the throne of grace. Whenever he heard Epaphras pray he sensed a struggle, a wrestling, in that prayer. Paul is so impressed that he mentions it to the Colossians.
Epaphras prayed for three things. The first one is that they “may stand”. This letter teaches that only if they stand firm in the truth they can face any kind of false teaching. Further he prayed that they might be “perfect” which again means spiritual maturity. Then they should walk in the truth they had come to know. Finally they should be “fully assured in all the will of God” showing at the same time how foolish and worthless are the promises of false teachers. Paul heard these elements in his prayers.
V1313For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis.. To all his appreciation for Epaphras Paul adds a further testimony. He says: “I testify for him.” Even if the Colossians were not aware of it Paul knew about all the hard work that Epaphras took upon himself. The words “deep concern” denote a work one does with dedication and with all his strength. Besides the believers in Colossae, Epaphras also had the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis close to his heart.
V1414Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and [also] Demas.. The Colossians also received greetings from Luke. The additional word “beloved physician” refers to the loving medical care Paul received from him. The Lord had not taken away the thorn from his flesh (2Cor 12:7-97Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!8Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.9And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.). However God gave him Luke who could ease his pain and who remained with him till the end (2Tim 4:1111Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.). This is also a caution that you should not be unduly influenced by all the extravagant claims made with respect to prayer healing.
Demas closes the list. They receive greetings from him also. Here Paul mentions only his name. In the letter to Philemon he is placed in the band of fellow workers (Phlm 1:23-2423Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you,24[as do] Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.). Unfortunately Demas later swapped the companionship of Paul for the world (2Tim 4:1010for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens [has gone] to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.).
V1515Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house.. Then Paul asks the Colossians to relay his greetings to the “brethren who are in Laodicea”. Even the believers who gather as a church in the house of Nympha were greeted. As the church in Laodicea had already received the greetings, it is not inconceivable that this church is the house of Nympha is that of Hierapolis (verse 1313For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis.). Neither of these places received any letter from Paul, or else he would not have asked the Colossians to greet them. His greetings to them prove that he has not forgotten them. Moreover we find here a proof of the fellowship that existed between these two churches which were so close together.
V1616When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter [that is coming] from Laodicea.. Another proof of the connection that existed between these two local churches is the reason for the instruction of Paul to have this letter to the Colossians also read in the church in Laodicea. The Colossians also should read another letter that Paul had written, which was in Laodicea (this letter could be the letter to the Ephesians circulating among all the churches and it was now in Laodicea). Paul wrote more letters than the ones we have in the Bible. Anyway, by the reading of these various letters, in faith they could edify each other and help them enjoy with one another the spiritual benefits graciously given to them.
V1717Say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”. Paul addressed the entire church in Colossae, but he did not forget the individual. The church receives the instruction to motivate Archippus not to neglect the ministry which he had received in the Lord, but to fulfill it (2Tim 4:55But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.). With the words “take heed to” Paul points to the dangers the church would face if the brother is negligent to the responsibilities given him by the Lord. If that happens, then that is to the detriment of the whole church. Therefore all those who form the church should motivate one another to perform the tasks entrusted to them.
This fully applies to you in every respect. You have also received a ministry; something that you must do for the Lord. To do something for the Lord also means that you should do something for your fellow believers or to take the gospel to the unbelievers. “In the Lord” means that it is about your walk with the Lord and about the recognition of His authority in your service. A good start is not necessarily a good end. “Fulfill” means that you bring your work to completion and do not give up halfway.
V1818I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my imprisonment. Grace be with you.. Paul ends with his own greeting. He adds a request for himself and closes with a wish for the Colossians. He writes his greeting with his own hand. He seems to have dictated this letter himself (Rom 16:2222I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord.). With this handwritten greeting, the apostle confirms that the letter is really from him (2Thes 3:1717I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write.; 1Cor 16:2121The greeting is in my own hand – Paul.).
By his request to remember his chains he not only expresses that he is in need of their intercession, but it is also an additional motivation to obey and to listen to what he has written about – the causes of his imprisonment. If they had to suffer for the confession of the truth, his example would serve to encourage them. He suffered for the same cause. He wishes them grace to live according to the content of this letter. This wish applies to you also.
Now read Colossians 4:10-18 again.
Reflection: Examine what you can learn from the people mentioned here and what you can apply to your life of faith.