Editor’s Note: This week I welcome David Hundert on the blog. David is an MDiv student and member of Faith Church. He preaches for me 3-4 times each year when I am away, and this past week I was my denomination’s national conference. Thank you, David!
Do you ever feel frustrated about how your life is going? Wondering if you’re doing what your supposed to be doing? As we conclude this study through Paul’s letter to the Colossians, we’re going to hear some encouragement from Paul to a friend to press on and complete his calling.
Before we get there, read Colossians 4, verse 16 and we see an interesting aspect of life in Biblical times exposed. Paul intends that his letters were to be passed on between local churches. It makes sense, because if we are looking back 2000 years and making scripture written then applicable to us today, halfway around the world, how much more applicable would it have been in that day one or two cities over, right?
The other thing I find interesting, it that there was a letter written to the church at Laodicea! Theologians believe that if in fact there was a letter written specifically to the church in Laodicea, it must have been lost early on. Some think that Paul might have been referencing the letter to the church at Ephesus, since that letter was written pretty close to the same time, but if not, what could that have contained? What truths might it have contained? Could it still be out there in a jar in a cave somewhere just waiting to be discovered? Who knows, but it’s exciting to think about, isn’t it?
Next, Paul, in verse 17, asks Archippus to complete his work. In the letter to Philemon, Paul calls Archippus “our fellow soldier.” Here, he is exhorted to complete the ministry that he received in the Lord. There is a lot of speculation and conjecture surrounding him. One Bible Encyclopedia states that tradition suggests that Archippus was one of 70 disciples, eventually became the bishop of Laodicea and was martyred. Another reference suggests that the phrase in the letter to Philemon stating “…and the church that meets in your house,” is referring to the church meeting in the home of Archippus. There are some that believe that Archippus was actually Philemon’s son and that the ministry that Paul references in Colossians was the effort to free Onesimus. Again, a lot of this is tradition and speculation, and one day when we get to heaven, we can ask Paul for clarification.
However, what can we learn now from this? Christian comedian Mike Warnke used to say, “When you were saved, you were called for a purpose. And you are the only person in the kingdom of God that can fulfill that calling. It you weren’t, he would have called someone else!” So now I ask you, what is your calling? What are your giftings? What is the thing that God has called you to do, that no one else in the kingdom of God can do? Are you pursuing it? Are you trying to complete it? If not, what can the family of Christ, your brothers and sisters, do to help you reach that goal? Can we pray for you? Can we encourage you? All you have to do is reach out and ask! Feel free to comment below. See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord. That is something that only you can do. No one can do it for you.
Now look at the final verse in the passage, verse 18. Some of the New Testament writers used “secretaries” referred to as an “amanuensis.” They were basically someone who was employed to write from dictation or to copy manuscript. This was actually very common in ancient Rome, and it was something that was used quite a bit by Paul. In this particular case, keep in mind that Paul was being held prisoner which would have made writing a long letter difficult. With that in mind, it also wasn’t uncommon for the one giving the dictation, to “authenticate” their letter by reading through it and then adding a line or two at the end. In this final verse, Paul gives the entire letter his “apostolic” stamp of approval by signing it in his own hand, asking the Colossian Christians to pray for him as he is still in chains, and then he closes with a blessing.
So what can we conclude here at the end of the letter? What can we learn from Paul’s P.S.?
- First, our speech should be the kind that shares the good things that the Lord is doing for the purpose of encouragement. We should be encouraging one another. Maybe start a secret prayer partner ministry in your church. Faith Church’s Fellowship Team recently had one that lasted for a few months, culminating in a Prayer Partner reveal dessert, and it was very encouraging.
- Look for those that haven’t been participating in your church family lately, people that used to be involved, and reach out to them! Drop them a card or give them a call. Let them know that they are valued and loved. Let them know that they haven’t been forgotten and that they are missed. Pray for them! You know who they are, just do it.
- Join a small group. If your church doesn’t have small groups, talk with church leaders about the possibility of starting one.
- We need to be intentional in our relationships with one another and with other churches. We need to be intentional with those that aren’t attending church anymore or even to those that are our neighbors where we live, and be there for them. Share the gospel with them. Be the gospel for them.
- Contend, struggle for one another in prayer and in person. Turn your church family into a spiritual hospital for those in need.
- Find out what your calling is and finish that to which you are called. Share that calling with the church so they can be praying for and encouraging you along the way! Celebrate when others are living out their calling.
- Finally, remember those in chains. There are brothers and sisters around the world, going through persecution. Be praying for them and the communities that they serve.