Fellowship of Encouragement pt. 4
Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters in Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her home. 16 After this letter has been read at your gathering, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And tell Archippus, “Pay attention to the ministry you have received in the Lord, so that you can accomplish it.” 18 I, Paul, am writing this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. (Colossians 4:15-18)
Closing the letter to the Colossians, Paul extends this greeting and letter to other believers in the nearby cities of Laodicea and Nympha. Paul encourages the two churches of Colossae and Laodicea to continue to have an ongoing relationship of support, telling them to exchange and read each other’s letters. As a note, there was a Latin letter to the Laodiceans that did circulate some churches and were included in the New Testament Apocrypha, but it was proven to not be written by Paul, and therefore, was not included in the canon of the Bible.
Then, Paul gives a specific word of encouragement to Archippus, “Pay attention to the ministry you have received in the Lord, so that you can accomplish it.” Archippus is thought to have been the son of Philemon and Apphia, as well as a pastor of the church that met within the household, as seen in Philemon 2, “also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home.” Paul knew that Archippus needed some encouragement to continue on in the ministry, probably being persecuted by the same false teachers that were affecting the church at Colossae.
Finally, Paul notes that he is “writing this greeting with [his] own hand.” The challenges that the church at Colossae were facing had a personal interest and investment in Paul. He took the time to write this letter of encouragement for the church to stand fast. And in the way that he encouraged them, Paul requests that they “remember my chains,” keeping Paul in prayer to encourage him to stand fast despite his present circumstance of imprisonment. Paul then closes with a familiar but important goodbye, “grace be with you,” the same grace that was given to all of them as believers in Christ.
In times of crisis, it is easy to fall into the trap of isolating oneself. But, God knew even from the very beginning of creation that it is not good for man to be alone. Through Christ Jesus, He established the church, being the head, that believers can be united in a family together. Just like the church at Colossae, we will face trials, such as false teachers in our present day. In order to stand fast against false doctrine, we must be anchored in God’s Word. We must also encourage one another to stand fast, regularly checking in on one another. May we continue to foster a fellowship of encouragement, that when difficulty rises up, we can overcome it together.
Isaac De Guzman