Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, so that you may stand mature and fully assured in the full will of God. For I testify about him that he goes to great pains for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas send you greetings. (Col. 4:12-14 BSB)
Paul continues to mention these significant people whom God had used to in the church in Colosse. It is important for us to remain in contact with those whom God has used in our lives, at least to the degree possible. None of them are perfect, but anyone whom God has used to bless us stands as a representative of the Lord Himself in lives.
In this listing, he is specifically naming those non-Jewish companions (Col. 4:11). So these were Gentile servants of Christ and fellow servants of Paul. By naming them he was affirming what many had already accepted, that in the Church of Jesus Christ, God was using Gentile converts as greatly as He was using Jewish converts.
Epaphras was from Colosse and started the church there. We know more about him than others in this list. I discussed him earlier at http://nighttimethoughts.org/?m=20190802
We have an insight here into his prayer life. He was consistent, “always.” He was serious, “wrestling.” Prayer requires a sincere and genuine sense of the urgency of the matters we bring to the Lord. He was unselfish, “for you.” Effective prayer takes the needs of others into our own hearts to the degree that we feel a divine burden for them, and we consistently bring them to God. He was biblical, “That you may stand … in the full will of God.” When we pray like this we will see God answer our prayers and God working in our lives to change us as well.
Luke was a companion of Paul and the human author of both the gospel according to Luke and the book of Acts. Though clearly named as a Gentile here, his nationality is not mentioned. Tradition has it that he was Syrian, but we are not really informed. He was a physician with a medical view of things and in his writings he gave attention to the details of healings. For example, he wrote: “at once the man’s feet and ankles were made strong” (Acts 3:7), “a woman there had been disabled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was hunched over and could not stand up straight” (Luke 13:11), and describing Paul’s healing wrote:
At that instant, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and his sight was restored. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. (Acts 9:18-19)
Some have theorized that the reason Luke received Mary’s account of the birth of Christ was simply because, as a physician, he was more interested in these matters, and also because Mary was more willing to open up and discuss these things with him.
The contribution that Luke made to the spread of the gospel in these early days is difficult to know in full, but certainly it was substantial. He was a companion of Paul — notice the “we” passages in Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 28:1-16 — and witnessed first hand of Paul’s work, and likely treated him for his “thorn in the flesh” (though this is conjecture). Luke was with Paul until the end (2 Tim. 4:11). He was described as a “fellow worker” of Paul in Philemon 1:24, which meant he was also a respected teacher of the word. Luke represents for us the servant that quietly goes about His Master’s business, drawing no attention to himself, but serving as he has opportunity for the glory of Christ. May we all be more like him.
Demas was listed here as one of Paul’s companions, but no attribute accompanies his name. It seems that Paul had his own doubts about his character. Roughly the same time frame he was mentioned again in Philemon 1:24, along with Luke, as a “fellow worker,” so he had some ability to serve alongside of Paul as a teacher of the Word. Yet we get a final glimpse of his character in 2 Tim. 4:10, where Paul wrote that Demas had forsaken him, “having loved this present world.” We, of course, do not know the whole story, but it would appear that Demas, like John Mark earlier, had left the ministry, finding that accompanying and caring for an aging and perhaps increasingly grouchy Paul was not his idea of a good life.
There is no record that Demas denied he faith, and we really do not know all the details of his life. Perhaps, like Jonah and John Mark and Peter and others, he had repented and returned. We should remember that God is a redeemer and He restores people and even nations to Himself. Micah the prophet, speaking for the nation of Israel, gave these inspired words:
Rejoice not over me, O my enemy;
when I fall, I shall rise;
when I sit in darkness,
the LORD will be a light to me.
I will bear the indignation of the LORD
because I have sinned against him,
until he pleads my cause
and executes judgment for me.
He will bring me out to the light;
I shall look upon his vindication. (Micah 7:8-9 ESV)
As Jeremiah wrote: “For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love” (Lam 3:31-32). Whenever any servant of God, or any Christian, seems to be rebelling against the Lord, pray for them that they would stand firm in all the will of God.