“as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf”
Paul developed people wherever he went. His epistles are replete with references to people into whom he poured his life (Rom. 16).
“as you also learned from Epaphras”
The Colossians learned about the gospel from Epaphras. His name occurs three times in the Bible. The first occurrence is here (Co 1:7). The second is Colossians 4:12, where the passage indicates he probably established the church at Colosse. The last occurrence is in Philemon 23, where he was under arrest in Rome with Paul.
“our dear fellow servant”
Epaphras probably brought the faith to Colosse. Paul and Epaphras served the same Master and were busy in the same work. He had made a long hazardous journey to Rome, where he became a prisoner with Paul. That is why he was “dear” to Paul. Those who serve Jesus Christ often find a place in their hearts for each other.
The word “servant” here means minister. Paul also calls him a “slave of Christ” at Colossians 4:12. That is a step beyond a minister. A slave has no rights. Epaphras waived his rights. He relinquished all his rights to Jesus Christ. He was satisfied to do the Savior’s bidding.
“who is a faithful minister of Christ”
Others were unfaithful to the truth. Tychicus was another “faithful minister” and “fellow servant” of Paul (Col. 4:7). God entrusted Epaphras with the gospel; he was faithful in discharging it. He was true to the message and to get the message out. He was a true blue servant of God.
It is one thing to serve the Lord on a missionary tour or in the marketplace. One can be quite spiritual in that kind of circumstance. It is something else to serve the Lord in the adversity of prison life. The closer we get to people under duress, the more we can detect their imperfections. Paul saw the character of Epaphras in distress. He counted him “faithful” in that situation.
“on your behalf”
Epaphras was Paul’s personal representative (Phil. 2:25; 4:18 — note: there is debate whether Ephapras is the same as Epaphroditus). He was not the Colossian minister but the minister of Christ on their behalf. Jesus’ appointed him to this work, not the Colossians.
God wants us to multiply ourselves through other people.
Is there someone in your life with whom you are pouring your life? Are you multiplying yourself in someone else?