It used to be a solid recommendation – and still is many small towns today; from restaurants to hardware stores to construction companies, customers like those 2 simple words: “Family Owned”. We tend to think there someone is more personally invested in something if there is a family connection. And I think there may have been a special interest by Epaphras in the church at Colosse for that same reason.
During Paul’s 3rd Missionary Journey, he made a significant visit to Ephesus… he stayed there longer than he did at any other one spot. While there, he found a group of disciples who were living only by the message of John the Baptizer. They had repented… and been baptized, but had not yet heard much of Jesus or the promised Holy Spirit. As soon as they heard the whole story, they believed. One of those twelve men was probably Epaphras.
Though Epaphras was probably converted in Ephesus, he returned to his hometown of Colosse.
What the Bible says about Epaphras speaks a lot for his devotion to Christ and to the Colosse Church. He came from Colosse himself (Col. 4:12), and was a co-worker with Paul while Paul was in prison. Paul even refers to him as a “fellow prisoner” in his letter to Philemon (Phi. 1:23)… and it can only be assumed Paul meant this literally. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul refers to Epaphras as a “dear fellow servant” and “a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf” (Col. 1:7). It seems Epaphras may have been the first to bring the gospel message to his hometown, maybe at Paul’s direction, and he reported to Paul the Christian love of the Colossian believers (Col. 1:8).
The great care Epaphras had for the Colossians is obvious in the way he was always “wrestling in prayer for them, that they might stand firm in all the will of God, complete and fully assured” (Col. 4:12). Paul vouched for Epaphras’ hard work for them… and also for the churches in the neighboring cities of Laodicea & Heirapolis.
How invested are you in your care for those around you?
Do you “wrestle in prayer” for them, that they might grow in spiritual maturity?
Do you work hard to help them grow?
Be a faithful helper… even minister… to the people God brings into your life.
You can piece together the story of Epaphras in Colossians 1:7; 4:12; and Philemon 23.