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Friday, March 5, 2010

Servants of the Lord - Colossians 4:7-18

Servants of the Lord
"Learning how to be a servant for Jesus through the examples of Paul's companions and co-labors of the Gospel"

Colossians 4:7-18
Serving the Lord is the greatest opportunity, privilege, and blessing a Christian can do.

At the end of Chapter 4, Paul gives his final salutations and exhortations. 

Salutation – “A word or phrase serving as the preferred greeting in a letter or speech.”

The overarching theme of Paul’s salutation to the Colossians to strengthen and comfort them with words of encouragement regarding his fellow servants and Epaphras, the Colossians pastor. 
Paul’s Salutations are specifically written to the Colossians:
1. To know who is with him in Rome.
2. To understand who will be visiting them in Colosse.
3. To speak to whoever needs instructions on behalf of him.

Out of these ten Christians, two are sent from Paul to Colosse, six of them are with Paul presently in Rome, and two are in the Lycus Valley (i.e. at Colosse and surrounding churches). This is important to know because it illustrates for us who the Lord places people who serve him in different place for different purposes! God uses everyone for specific reasons to accomplish his sovereign will and glorious plan for all believers.

People sent to Colosse from Paul in Rome : 
1. Tychicus
2. Onesimus

People presently with Paul in Rome: 
1. Aristarchus
2. John Mark
3. Jesus who is called Jutus
4. Epaphras
5. Luke
6. Demas

People in the Lycus Valley at Colosse, Laodicea, Hierapolis Paul mentions:
1. The Laodiceans
2. Nympha(s) [household/church]
3. Archippus

Why do we need to study these minuet characters in the Bible? Are they important to understand who they were and what they did? Of course they are important! It is through these rarely mentioned figures in Scripture we learn how to be a great example to other people. Some of us cannot be just like a Paul – evangelist and theologian of God’s Word. Some of us cannot be a Peter – bold proclaimer of the Gospel and expository preacher of God’s Word. However, we can easily be a Tychicus, Onesimus, or Epaphras who encourages and comforts others by serving them.

The purpose of this salutation in Colossians 4 is to show Christians who had a servant’s heart!

Before we look into the different people in Paul’s last words to the Colossians, we first must define what is a SERVANT.

Servant – Most translations of the word “slave, bondservant” (Gk. Duolos) in the original language is changed into English as “servant.”  Therefore a servant is someone dedicated to God, who becomes a slave to their Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, and serves him faithfully by serving others.

“Christians are slaves of God and servants of God. They are not to be ashamed of these titles. The work, give, bless, and have unlimited possibilities of service, and should consider that everything they do is a way of serving their Lord.”

Jesus is the ultimate example of being a servant. (cf. Mark 10:45)

As believers, we are all capable of serving the Lord. Our number one priority as a Christian is to be a servant of God. We serve because Jesus died to save us. And since he saved us to live, we should in return live to serve Christ.

Warren Wiersbe says in his book On Being a Servant of God, “The human needs in our world today are indescribable, innumerable, and unbearable. We cannot do everything, but we can do something; and that something is the ministry God has called us to fulfill.”

David Hocking wise states in Be a Leader People Follow regarding why people do not serve the Lord, “The root of the problem is the lack of desire in the heart for spiritual leadership.”

King David had a desire to serve the Lord and great things happened through him. As we dive into Colossians, all of these people we will read about all had a radical and passionate desire to serve Jesus Christ with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Colossians 4:7-18
1. Tychicus – His name means “fateful.” He was a messenger, one who delivered Paul’s epistles to the churches, and served the Lord by encouraging believers (cf. Acts 20:4, Eph. 6:21, 2 Tim. 4:11)
A. He provided help for Paul by being his representative and delivering his messages (epistles) as a realible helper and co-laborer in Paul’s third missionary journey. Paul could count on him as “a product of commitment, attention to detail, trustworthiness, honesty, and perserevance.
B. Do you represent the Lord and deliver his Gospel (the message of good news) to others? Do you have a servants heart to share God’s truth with others to evangelize to non-believers and encourage believers?

2. Onesimus – His name means “profitable, useful.” He is the thematic character of Philemon as a run away slave. Somehow he met Paul, and told the story of how he ran away from Colosse. After meeting with Paul, he has become a believer “one of us” and is a faithful and dear brother in the church. He was being sent by Paul to go back to Colosse and met Philemon, reconcile his relationship with his former master, and help the church understand what Paul’s epistle was all about.

A. Are you a willing servant to go back and help those people who did not treat you right in past? Being a servant of forgiveness and reconciliation is a huge ministry God calls us to do 
(cf. 2 Cor. 5:18-20)

The next six servants of the Lord are listed in a unique order. The first three are Jewish Christians (v.4:11b), and the second group of three are Gentile Christians. This shows us that anyone can serve the Lord, whether Jew or Gentile in the first century. In our world today, we can draw parallels from this text in which anyone is capable of serving the Lord no matter what race, sex, or nationality.

3. Aristarchus – His name means “the best ruler.”  He was a believer from Thessalonica, and accompanied Paul on his third missionary journey (cf. Acts 19:29, 20:4, 27:2, Philemon 1:24)

4. John Mark – His name means “a defense.” His latin surname is Mark, and his jewish name is John, therefore we get “John Mark.” He is the author of the Gospel of Mark, and associated with his cousin Barnabas and Paul on mission trips. (cf. Acts 12:25, 15:37-39, Philemon 1:24, 2 Tim. 4:11) He was once refused by Paul, but later proved to be useful and helpful as a servant of the Lord.

5. Jesus who is called Jutus – His name means “the just or righteous.” There is very little we know about Jutus. (cf. Acts 1:23, 18:7) All we know is that he was a righteous servant of God who did good work for the Gospel as a devout follower of Jesus.

6. Epaphras – His name means “lovely.” He was one everyone loved to be around because he loved God and he loved people. (He is only mentioned in Colossians and in Philemon 1:24). He served the Lord in a few important ways that we need to notice:
A. He was a slave of Christ – He denied himself, took up the cross, and followed Christ passionately. He was a prayer warrior (v.4:12b), disciple maker (v.4:12c), and a evangelist who reached out to his community in the Lycus Valley in Laodicea and Hierapolis.
A Servant’s Heart

7. Luke – He is the author of the Gospel of Luke, and accompanied Paul on his second and third missionary trips, while being his personal physician who took care of Paul and his health during his journeys. He was sent to be a healer. He served God with his occupation. His job was to be a physician, and as a physician he glorified God by using his capabilities for the furtherance of the Gospel.

8. Demas – He is the one we all want to avoid being. According to 2 Tim. 4:10, he falls away from the ministry and even the Lord because he “loved the world.” We need to be careful that we do not fall into the same sinful and spirit quenching lifestyle that Demas lived in. He is a perfect example of the soil that had thorns in the parable of the Sower (Mark 4).

9. Nympha(s) – We do not know anything about the house of Nympha (or Nymphas) because of there is no mention of this household or church anywhere else in the New Testament. However, we must see the servant’s heart of Nympha(s). They were leading a church in their household. This is a huge responsibility and takes commitment and dedication. They had a servants heart to open their home for the teaching of God’s Word to his people.

10. Archippus – Without Philemon, we would not know that Archippus was a church leader and soldier for the Lord in the Lycus Valley (cf. Philemon 1:2). What we learn from him is that he might have military experience (Roman name, soldier of the Lord) because he is charged as a commander would charge his troops by the Apostle Paul to “maintain” “fulfill” “accomplish” the ministry given to you, just as battle plans are given to soldiers.

This is the commanding principle of having a servant’s heart – Do what God’s called you to do, and do it well! Serve the Lord your God with all your life.

Wrapping Up.
Questions to ask yourself...
Do you have a desire to serve? If not, how come?
Do you want to serve and help others?
Do you want to share the gospel with others?
Do you want to teach the Bible to others?

How can I have a servant’s heart? 
1. Seek God through prayer.
2. Seek God through reading the Scriptures.
3. Seek God and be available by getting involved in ministries to stir up your gifts. God will give you a desire to serve him if you seek him!

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