Have you ever heard of a man named Epaphras? Yes, he is in the Bible and only mentioned in Paul's letter to the Colossians and the little one-chapter letter to Philemon. Four verses of the entire New Testament tell us all we can learn about Epaphras.
Paul wrote both of those letters while in was imprisoned in Rome and according to his mention in the letter to Philemon, Epaphras was a fellow prisoner. We also know that even though he is now in prison with Paul, he was actually from Colosse.
From just several verses in the Bible that mention Epaphras, there is an abundance we can learn from his example.
1. He had preached the gospel to the Colossian residents. His teaching had delivered the Good News about Jesus in that city, and obviously had succeeded in bringing many to Christ. In Colossians 1:7-8, "He is Christ's faithful servant...... He told us about the great love for others the Holy Spirit has given you."
2. He was faithful to the truth. Having already been described as Christ's faithful servant, Paul wanted the Colossian Christians to understand how Epaphras had been faithful to the message of truth he delivered to them.
3. He remembered his roots. From the Roman prison Paul is writing a letter to the church in Colosse, and his fellow prisoner Epaphras, is mentioned by Paul in a salute to the residents of his home town. We all know how encouraging it can be to receive greetings and good wishes from someone we haven't seen in a while, and Epaphras was just such an encourager to his brethren.
4. Epaphras was a man of prayer. In the NIV, the verse in Colossians 4:12 mentions that Epaphras "wrestles in prayer for those in Colosse, that they will stand firm in the Lord."
5. He was a man of zeal. We might describe him in today's terminology as being "on fire for the Lord." This is further evidenced as Paul tells the Colossian Christians of the encouragement they receive from Epaphras, and also those in the church in Laodicea and Hierapolis.
Just a few verses in the New Testament about the life of a man who was truly devoted to his God, and truly devoted to the people whose lives he touched. I confess to you I have read his name in these verses before, but today I see a great example for all believers to follow. Epaphras is to us a picture of faithful devotion to the Lord, and a picture of the love we should have toward each other.
If our journey through life seems insignificant, we need to steer ourselves in the direction of the brethren like Epaphras. I could only hope that I would be remembered as a faithful servant of Christ, that I was a man of fervent prayer, a man of zeal, remembering fellow Christians in love, and remaining faithful to the gospel.