Epaphras: The Bible Hero Your Daddy Never Talked About
There are not too many mailmen or schoolteachers named Epaphras today. Daddies never tell their children the bedtime story about Epaphras either. He didn’t kill a ten foot giant with one stone like David, nor did he go into a pit on a snowy day and kill a lion like Benaiah. On the contrary, he did save a destitute number of people from their sins in the city of Colossea.
While the apostle Paul was in chains at Rome, Epaphras traveled across land and sea to inform Paul of the church at Colossea. We know this because Colossians 1:7-8 says, “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.” The trip was not easy. Gas was not $1.39/gallon in Colossea at that time. Needless to say, it was an act of great faith and servitude for Epaphras to travel the approximate 1,200 miles to see his true friend and brother in Christ. In this way he was a faithful minister of the Colossian church, but by implication of the scripture he was more than a messenger boy. Just as Paul implied that he was the Corinthian brethren’s father of faith who brought them to Christ (1 Cor. 4:15), Epaphras was the father or founder of the Colossian church. After all, Paul had never seen the faces of the Colossian brethren, yet Epaphras was from Colossea, and Epaphras knew Paul very well.
David Watson in the Denton Lectures (2000) provides sound theory as to how Epaphras came to know Paul. Paul was in Ephesus, 100 miles west of Colossea, for 3 years preaching in the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9). Perhaps during that time, Epaphras heard of this great gospel preacher. Certainly the reputation of Paul was like unto that of Charles Spurgeon, Walter Scott, Jonathan Edwards or other great orators of past generations. Watson conjectures that perhaps Epaphras traveled to go hear Paul preach, much like people today might drive a great distance to hear a stellar gospel preacher at a revival for the first time. And so it was that Epaphras was so effected by Paul’s preaching that no demon or angel could withhold him from being baptized into Christ. Epaphras would then take the gospel back to a sin-sick city known as Colossea and go on to baptize many lost souls into Christ. Philemon and Onesimus would be in that number as well, although space does not allow explanation for this detail.
Christ needs men and women in His blood bought body to do the humble service that Epaphras was unafraid to tackle. He not only reported of the good news at Colossea but he brought word of the false doctrines to which Paul denounced in Colossians chapter 2. Truly he was more than a faithful minister. Epaphras was a hero. Christ needs heroes. Christ needs you.