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Philemon1:23 “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you…”
 
We come now to the conclusion of Philemon (23-25).  We find greetings from five people: Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke.  One of these was a fellow prisoner (Epaphras) while the other four were “fellow workers.”  All these people are mentioned in Colossians 4:10-16. 
Co 4: 7 “Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. 8 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts, 9 with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all things which are happening here. 10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him), 11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me. 12 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. 13 For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis. 14 Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you. 15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.”
Epaphras,
The New Testament mentions Epaphras three times.  He was the founder of the church at Colosse and the catalyst for evangelism in the Lycus Valley.  Paul probably led him to Christ.  Philemon knew him well.  Colosse was Philemon’s hometown.  Paul made two references to Epaphras in the book of Colossians.  
Co 1: 7 “…as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, 8 who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.”
Co 4: 12Epaphras, 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. 13 For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis.”
Epaphras fervently prayed for the Colossian church.  He prayed for their maturity (stand perfect and complete) in Christ. 
my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus,
Epaphras was in jail with Paul in Rome.  He was Paul’s cellmate.  The church at Colosse may have sent Epaphras to Rome to minister to Paul in jail and while there he was imprisoned as well. 
“In Christ Jesus” indicates Paul’s constant connection that his imprisonments were related to the person of Christ
greets you
Epaphras sends his salutation to Philemon and church family.  Greeting is an issue of courtesy and respect. 
1 Pt. 3: 8 “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous…”
PRINCIPLE: 
Prayer for the maturity of a local church is the responsibility of especially the pastor but also of everyone in that church. 
APPLICATION: 
Prayer for the maturity of a given local church is an often-overlooked prayer.  Maybe this is the reason why so many churches struggle.  They fight over the least situation.  They have very few Christians who can stand above the fray and operate on biblical norms.  Are you praying for the maturity of your church? 
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