The Apostle's Entourage
Colossians 4:7-18
All my state shall Tychicus declare to you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord:…

At the time when this Epistle was written Paul had a considerable band about him. Though a prisoner in Borne, he has gathered round him a troop of friends. The time has not come when he has to say, "Only Luke is with me" (2 Timothy 4:10). It is interesting to notice these he has at this time around him.

I. THE LETTER CARRIERS. (Vers. 7-9.) These are Tychicus and Onesimus. They carry each a letter - Tychicus this letter to the Church, Onesimus the letter for Philemon. The freeman and the slave are to journey together as brothers in the Lord, carrying tidings of the imprisoned preacher and the love tokens in his Epistles. What beautiful harmony has Paul summoned forth! Christianity recognizes not the distinctions of the world, but bond and free realize their unity in Christ.

II. THE JEWS. (Vers. 10, 11.) He has with him as "fellow prisoner" Aristarchus, the faithful companion who had risked himself in the theatre at Ephesus, and. who seems to have voluntarily shared the imprisonment with the apostle. Mark also, the cousin of Barnabas, is with him, not very reliable or certain in his movements, but with whom Paul has long ago made up his quarrel and can dwell in peace. Jesus also, another Jew, a loyal citizen as his additional name Justus implies, is with Paul, and they are such genuine converts from Judaism as to be most comforting "fellow workers unto the kingdom of God." The large-hearted Jewish apostle has attracted to his side magnanimous, large-souled Jews also to cooperate in the missionary enterprise.

III. THE GENTILES. (Vers. 12-15.) We have three Gentiles as a set-off to the three Jewish companions. These are Epaphras, who has come from Colossae to aid. the work, and who seems to have been a specially prayerful man, making his native district the burden of his constant intercessions. Next there is "Luke, the beloved physician," the medical attendant and fast friend for many years of the great apostle. It was he who lingered with him during his second imprisonment, when all the rest had forsaken him, and who saw his end. His writings, the Gospel according to Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, constitute him the "Josephus of the Christian Church," and form the natural and indispensable introduction to the Pauline Epistles. And, lastly, we have Demas, whose loyalty had not been tested at this time fully, but whose sad history is written by Paul later on in the brief words, "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world" (2 Timothy 4:10). It would thus appear that just as Jesus had a Judas in his band of disciples, so Paul had a Demas in those attracted to his side. The best of men cannot exclude the insincere from the work in which they need. "fellow workers." And it is best, for the hostile at heart are admirable witnesses of the private life of the Christian leaders, Neither Judas nor Demas ever bore bad witness about their masters!

IV. THE PUBLIC USE TO BE MADE OF THIS EPISTLE. (Vers. 15, 16.) It was to be handed about to neighbouring Churches, and other letters sought in exchange. Paul was writing, not for Colossae alone, but for all Churches to which his Epistle would crone. It was therefore a public Epistle. The letter Onesimus had in his pocket was private. It was intended for Philemon alone, and yet, blessed be God, it too has become public property. But the other Pauline Epistles were meant by their author to be public documents. We may well rejoice that such precious literary remains have come down to us.

V. THE SPECIAL SALUTATION TO ARCHIPPUS, THE MINISTER IN CHARGE. (Ver. 17.) This must have been a solemn and yet a salutary word. The ministry had been received "from the Lord," as some put it. Archippus looked past apostle and all terrestrial officials to Jesus as his Master, and it was a ministry in the Lord he had received. But at the same time he will receive cordially such an exhortation, and his responsibilities shall in consequence be more carefully discharged. It is in increased ministerial conscientiousness that the progress of a Church is to be realized. And thus it is with pathetic warning the interesting Epistle ends. As the apostle puts his bold signature to the document and asks to have his bonds remembered, this Epistle of the captivity goes forth complete to the world wide mission intended by the Spirit. - R.M.E.

Parallel Verses
KJV: All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:

WEB: All my affairs will be made known to you by Tychicus, the beloved brother, faithful servant, and fellow bondservant in the Lord.

Side Lights on Church Life in the Early Times
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