The prayer of Epaphras:
What We Need To Learn
Philemon 23,24; Col. 4:12,13; Col. 1:7,8
Warren E. Berkley
Three brief passages in the New Testament mention this man, Epaphras.
“Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.” Philemon 1:23,24.
“Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis.” Col. 4:12,13.
“…as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.” Col. 1:7,8.
Assuming these passages refer to the same man, our first impression of this individual is favorable. This Christian was willing to be a “fellow prisoner” because of his relationship with Christ and he wasn’t ashamed to be associated with people known for their allegiance to Christ. He considered himself a “bondservant of Christ,” labored fervently for brethren in his prayers, entertained great zeal for God’s people and worked as “a faithful minister of Christ.”
This is an example of the kind of people we ought to be. Have you ever wondered, what would Paul have written about me? If Paul lived and wrote epistles today and knew you, what would he say? We all understand, what matters most is that we please the Lord. But when we read what Paul wrote about individual people like Epaphras, it may be profitable for us to consider how he might evaluate us. Would I be described as someone like Epaphras?
Epaphras was a man who prayed without ceasing. And in Colossians chapter four Paul gives us an idea of the content of those prayers: He prayed “that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”
He knew that Christians must “stand.” Perhaps he had been instructed by Paul who urged Christians to “stand fast in the faith,” (1 Cor. 16:13), “stand fast” in the liberty we have in Christ (Gal. 5:1), “stand fast in one spirit,” (Phil. 1:27) and “stand fast in the Lord,” (Phil. 4:1). Paul and Epaphras knew – either Christians stand or they fall! If we stand, that means we are characterized by stability, strength and the activity of commitment.
He prayed that his brethren might stand “perfect.” This is not about sinless perfection. This is about spiritual maturity. Paul’s goal was to proclaim Christ, “admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ,” (Col. 1:28). One of his last recorded statements to his brethren in Corinth was, “Finally, brethren, farewell, be perfected,” (2 Cor. 13:11; see also Matt. 5:48, 1 Cor. 2:6; 2 Cor. 13:11 and Eph. 4:12,13). In the NIV, Epaphras prays that Christians might be “mature.” How can I tell if I’m mature? By comparing my attitude, commitment, behavior and zeal to what the New Testament teaches.
Epaphras wanted Christians to be “fully assured” or “complete in all the will of God.” In my efforts to learn the will of God and be mature, I must strive for wholeness, attending with active faith to all the will of God. I must not tolerate personal neglect in one area due to my professed diligence in other areas of obedience. Paul wanted the saints at Corinth to prove that they were “obedient in all things,” (2 Cor. 2:9), and the Ephesians needed to grow up “in all things into Him who is the head – Christ…,” (Eph. 4:15).
Epaphras prayed for what every Christian should be working to demonstrate – standing; standing complete; being fully assured in all the will of God. This should be the prayer of every child of God.