“For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis.”
“For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you”
Paul went on record to testify that Epaphras possessed a great zeal for the Colossians, the Laodiceans and those in Hierapolis.
“Zeal” here means “labor.” Epaphras underwent intense pain and suffering for his church back in Colosse. “Zeal” is hard work with accompanying pain and distress. He wanted them to become spiritually self-sustaining. His goal was that they would depend on the Word rather than upon their pastor (4:12).
“and those who are in Laodicea”
Laodicea was located in what we call Turkey today. This city was ten miles from Colosse. It lay on the same road but was larger and richer than Colosse. Today it lies in a heap of ruins.
“and those in Hierapolis”
Hierapolis was the city of the mythical Amazon queen Hiera. This city was situated near Colosse and Laodicea in the Lycus River valley of Phrygia. It was a wealthy dyeing center. This city was five miles north of Laodicea and it also lies in ruins.
Epaphras was interested in the local churches at Laodicea and Hierapolis as well. Although God has given us a local church, he expects us to be interested in other local churches as well.
The child of God should have a great commitment to the local church.
We hear little of our responsibility to have zeal for the local church. Along with our zeal for God and those without Christ, God wants us to have a great zeal for the local church.
We invest thousands of dollars in the local church. Others send their children to the mission field from the local church. This is the commitment God expects toward the local church.
God has raised up para-church organizations in addition to the local church. These organizations are no substitute for the local church but they are an arm of the church. Often these organizations are on the cutting edge of advancing the gospel. Without aggressive evangelistic organizations that take the gospel across national lines, the gospel will remain within the confines of the local church. The gospel will not get beyond the city limits. However, it is the local church that supports these enterprises of the gospel. May we, like Epaphras, care about other churches.
Some churches never miss a month in financially supporting their missionaries. That is because responsible people band together to further the gospel. These are people who have a sense of welfare for both the home church and the cause of Christ throughout the world (Gal. 6:10; Heb. 6:10). Every Christian needs other Christians to rally around them in time of need.