The Book of Colossians #17

 

 
Associations
Colossians 4:7-15
 
Do you ever wonder why God chose to list all the names of individuals in the Bible? Over in the Old Testament in the genealogies we have name after name after name, and they seemingly mean nothing to us. In the New Testament we have, as we see here, a list of names, and they seem to have very little to do with the teaching of the book, and carry very little significance. 
 
Tonight we are going to take a look at a long list of names in this passage and I want to try to explain to you why these names are in the Bible and why we are even bothering to look at these particular names. 
 
Right off the bat, if foe nothing else, they are reminders that it takes a lot of people, just average ordinary people, like you and me to get the work of the Lord done. The Bible says that we are laborers together with God. So, it takes a lot of just plain, ordinary folks. It’s wonderful to know that God will use average people to do extraordinary, out-of-the average kinds of things for the Lord.
       
Paul is world famous. Paul is one of the most famous personalities in Biblical and secular history and all of us know about Paul. What we may not know is there were a number of people who were associated with Paul in his work who were vital and indispensable to the work of the Lord which God did through the Apostle Paul. And Paul had a way of showing his appreciation and gratitude to those who were associated with him in the work of the Lord. 
 
In many of his writings, at the conclusion, you will find he will give a list of names and will thank them and show his appreciation to them. Sometimes when you read the writings of Paul you may think that he was a hard-hearted man. But Paul was a very warm-hearted man and a man who had genuine appreciation and gratitude for that vast host of people who were around him in the work of the Lord.
       
I think it would be something you might get a blessing out of sometime to just get out a pencil and paper and make a list of all of those people who have been a help to you. Those people who have been an encouragement to you. 
 
I was thinking as I was preparing this message, how many of you are involved in the work of the Lord here and how special you are and how precious you are. 
 
For instance, many are involved in any in Sunday School as a teacher or secretary or member. Many are involved with our kids and youth. Many are involved in the music ministry or missions program. 
Think about those who serve as usher or money counter or nursery workers who who are hardly ever recognized or appreciated. 
 
I want to thank you for being involved in the work of the Lord that way. It takes a lot of people to do the work of the Lord here. The Apostle Paul reminds us by listing these names how very important every individual is in the work of the Lord.
 
These names are kind of like Bible cameos. They are Scripture snapshots, you might say. They are glimpses of grace. 
Every one of these names mentioned in these verse represent real people. These were actual people. They lived and they worked and they walked in the Bible day. As you read down through this list of names you will find a lot of activity going on. You will find a lot of people who are doing a lot of different things. You have a veritable beehive of activity going on in the names that are represented here. You will see all kinds of variety. You will find people doing different kinds of things and people who had different personalities. 
 
I want us to move down through these names and take a look at these glimpses of God’s grace, and I want to challenge you to see if you can find yourself here, or perhaps discover your place of service. 
 
I’ve grouped these names in several ways. First, I want to talk to you about –
 
I. THE MESSENGERS.
       
In verses 7-9 we have two messengers mentioned. 
       
Two messengers. Two men who were used by God to bring a message to the believers at Colosse.
       
Look at Tychichus. He was indeed a man with a message. He is called a beloved brother by Paul, a faithful minister and a fellow servant in the Lord. This indicates to us that Tychichus was the right-hand man of Paul. 
 
He was a man who could be counted on. Notice that he is a beloved brother and a faithful minister. In other words, he had a shepherd’s heart and a prophet’s ministry. He is called a faithful minister.
Notice that word, faithful. That is the key ingredient of all Christian service. There is the word you need to get in your heart to be effective in serving the Lord. 
 
The Bible says, “Moreover it is required in stewards (servants) that a man (or woman) be found faithful.” You may not be the most talented person in the world, but you can be faithful. You may not be able to sing like these beautiful singers can sing, but you can be faithful, dependable, trustworthy.
 
I think about those of you who serve in the nursery and drive the vans. I want you to encourage you to be faithful. When you say you are going to serve, let me encourage you to be faithful to that commitment.   If you’ve been given a responsibility in our music ministry, be faithful. Tychichus is a faithful brother.
       
We know in the Scripture that this man was an Asian Christian, and that he followed the Apostle Paul. He went with him. But it seems that this man is the man who was kind of a postman. They didn’t have mail services like we do today. They didn’t have e-mail like we have today. So, evidently the letters to the Colossians and also the Ephesians’ letter and the little postcard to Philemon were carried by Tychichus for the Apostle Paul to the churches. 
 
Here is a man who was rather insignificant in history, yet he is on a very significant errand. He is taking God’s Word. He is a postman for God’s Word. We can all be that way. Here is a messenger, Tychichus.
 
 
Then in verse 9 we find Onesimus. Now I think when these Colossians Christians read the name Onesimus they all sat up straight. “With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you.” 
That really got their attention because if there was one thing they knew about Onesimus it was that he certainly wasn’t their brother. 
 
We know the story of Onesimus from the book of
Philemon. It’s just one little chapter and it is a personal letter to a Colossian Christian named Philemon. But it’s all about this man Onesimus. Onesimus was a runaway slave. He had been owned by Philemon and had run away, had stolen some things and evidently had wound up in jail where the Apostle Paul was. Paul led him to faith in Christ. He was criminal, then he became a convict and now Paul says he’s a companion.
 
That just reminds us of the wonderful Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel can take an enemy and turn him into a friend. This good news about the Lord Jesus Christ can take a criminal and turn him into a Christian. Paul says to Philemon that he is going to send Onesimus back to him. and “if he owes you anything put it on my account.”
 
That’s a beautiful picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross. All of our sin account was laid on Jesus Christ. All of us were like wayward, runaway slaves. Yet, when Jesus died on that cross He paid our sin debt in full and now you and I can be brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ. Onesimus was a man with a past.
       
All of us have a past. You and I have a background of sin. 
Let the life of Onesimus encourage you and remind you that it doesn’t matter what your past has been. It doesn’t matter what you have done. Jesus can forgive you and transform you and make you brand new. He can make your life meaningful and beautiful and sweet.
 
So first we see the messengers. Then in verses 10-14 we see -
 
II. THE GREETERS.
       
Verses 10-15
 
These were people who were with Paul who were known by the Colossian believers. So, they are saying hello. They are giving a word of greeting. They are greeters.
       
He says something else about the names. Look at the last sentence in verse 11,
 
“They have proved to be a comfort to me.” Interesting word, comfort. We have a medicine that gets its name from this particular Greek word. Have you ever heard of paregoric? That may be something that families don’t use now, but when I was a kid there was a medicine called paregoric. If babies were crying at night and having a little colic you would give them some paregoric. I don’t know if it was much comfort to the children, but it sure was a comfort to the parents to give it to them. 
 
The word, comfort, is the word paregoric. It means a tonic or a relief. Paul is saying these people have been a tonic, a relief, an encouragement to me. 
 
Isn’t it wonderful to have Christians around you who are an encouragement? You know the other side of that don’t you? Those who are like the man the pastor asked to stand and lead them in a word of criticism. Always throwing up on people. Always negative and discouraging.
 
You know, not everyone needs to serve as an usher or a door greeter!
       
Look at verse 10, Aristarchus. What a name. Aristarchus was with Paul on some significant occasions. He was with Paul when there a riot in Ephesus. He was also with Paul when he was in the storm on the Mediterranean Sea in Acts 27. This man seems to have been one of those kinds of people who was always there when times got tough. He was always there where there were difficulties. He’s the kind of person Paul could count on. 
 
You need a lot of folks like that. You need a lot of people you can count on when the times get tough. Someone has said that when times are going tough, the tough get going. That’s the kind of people we ought to be--like Aristarchus.
 
Then in verse 10 we find Mark. This is young John
Mark. You remember the story about John Mark. Turn to the book of Acts and the 12th chapter, verse 12. There’s a lesson for some of you. Paul is getting ready to go on one of his missionary journeys. “And when he had considered the thing he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.” There is John Mark. His mother is named Mary.
       
Look at verse 25. Paul and Barnabas are getting ready to go on a missionary tour. “And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry and took with them John whose surname was Mark.” 
 
Here is Paul the great apostle, Barnabas the son consolation, the son of encouragement, and they have picked a young guy named John Mark to be one of their assistants and go with them on that missionary journey. My what an honor it was.
       
Look down in the 13th chapter and let’s see what happened to John Mark.. “Now, when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.” 
 
Uh, oh, John Mark has gone home to Mama. Something has happened to young John Mark. We don’t know exactly what happened, but for some reason John Mark faltered. For some reason John Mark didn’t complete his term of service.
       
Turn over to the 15th chapter of Acts and follow this story carefully. Some of us really need to learn the message of John Mark. Look at verse 37. They are getting ready to go on another missionary journey. “And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.” Verse 38 says, “But Paul thought it not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work..” 
       
Barnabas says, “Let’s take John Mark.”
 
 
Paul says, “No, he left us. We aren’t going to take him with us.”
       
Verse 39 says, “and the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; and Paul took Silas.” 
 
There was such a strong disagreement between these good men of God that it caused their missionary team to split up and they went different directions. This may be Bible proof that they were both Baptists.
       
Baptist churches are amazing. In most denominations, you have a disagreement or a fuss, it kills the church. Baptists can have a fuss and instead of killing the church you wind up with two churches that are bigger than the one you started with.”
       
Warren Wiersbe tells about going through a Texas town and when he got to the end of the town he saw a sign in front of a church that said Harmony Baptist Church. He said he rode a little further through the town and saw another church that said New Harmony Baptist Church. He said he got on out to the edge of town and saw another sign that said New Harmony Baptist Church #2. 
 
It is some comfort to us know that even good men have their disagreements.
 
Think about this young guy John Mark. He started off pretty good, but now he has messed up. You may be like that. 
 
That is the testimony of a lot of God’s people. You may have been saved some time ago and you were doing good and then you messed up. You faltered and you failed. Maybe you had a lapse backward. You may be so discouraged and downhearted. You were so thrilled being saved, now you blew it. Let me encourage you with John Mark. 
       
There were evidently three men who helped this young man John Mark recover from his failure. One of them was obviously Barnabas, that son of encouragement. Isn’t it wonderful that we have people like Barnabas who are tender-hearted and kind and forgiving and willing to give people a second chance?
 
I think Paul actually helped him as we will see later on. The strong commitment that Paul talks about must have helped John Mark realize that you need strong commitment in your heart. I think Paul was helpful to him.
       
I think there was somebody else who was helpful to John Mark.  I think it was Simon Peter. When you read I Peter 5:13 you find out that John Mark was the spiritual son of Simon Peter. Simon Peter led John Mark to Jesus. I can almost imagine in my mind that when John Mark blew it that he went to his spiritual father, Simon Peter, and told him with many tears. 
 
I can almost hear Simon Peter as he says, “I’m sorry you failed like that, but let me just tell you my story. I was the leader of the apostles and I loved Jesus with all my heart. I boasted that if everybody else forsook Him, I would never forsake Him. 
 
But John Mark, the night our Lord was tried I stood by the enemy’s fire and I denied I even knew the name of the Lord.   John Mark, every body fails. I want you to know that the Lord Jesus looked at me that evening with a look of love and when He was raised again from the dead he said, 'go tell Simon Peter I’ll meet him in Galilee.’ And He gave me a second chance. And John Mark, the Lord will give you a second chance also.
 
Aren’t you glad we have a God of a second chance? Aren’t you glad when we blow it it’s not over? We can go to the God of a second chance.
       
You know what happened to John Mark? He wrote the second Gospel. Don’t give up. There’s hope for you. There’s opportunity for you. You can still serve Jesus. You can still be effective for the Lord.
 
Later on in the book of 2 Timothy 4:11 we hear Paul saying, Bring Mark because he useful in the ministry. 
 
Isn’t that glorious? Isn’t that wonderful! Paul says to bring that young man, he has proven himself. 
He’s come back. He’s had a recovery. That’s why in Colossians 4:10 it says if he comes to you, receive him. That means to welcome him with open arms.
       
It’s hard for backslidders sometimes to come back. Because they wonder what kind of reception they are going to get. When a backslidder comes back to church don’t give them a cold shoulder, give them a warm hug. Tell them how glad you are to see them.
       
 
 
 
Think about all the inactive folks in your Sunday School class who haven’t been in a long time. Do you realize they dropped out for a reason? Something happened. For most of them what they need is not rebuke or reprimand or embarrassment, they need for you to give them a good hug and pray for them and tell them how much you love them and how much Jesus loves them and how much you miss them.
 
John Mark blew it, but he recovered.
       
In verse 11 we find Jesus called Justus.
 
What we read here is all we know about this man.  All we know is his name--Jesus Justus, but what a name!
 
In those days it was not uncommon for people to be named Jesus. In fact, in certain cultures in our world it is very common for people to be named Jesus. Think about the significance. This man carried the name of Jesus. Jesus took a common name and He exalted it. 
 
Therefore because Jesus name is exalted, everything associated with His name is exalted. Have you ever thought about that? 
 
A church is simply a place where religious people meet until it bears the name of Jesus. Then it is the church of Jesus Christ. 
 
You and I bear that name. You are a what? You are a Christian. Do you know how the name Christian came into existence? It means a follower of Christ. A Christ-one. 
We bear that name of Jesus. May it be said of us as it was the early disciples, “They took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus. Do people see Jesus in us?
       
Jesus Justus.
       
This next one in verse 12 is interesting--Epaphras. 
 
Verses 12-13
 
He may have been the pastor of the Colossian church, separated from them at this particular time. It says that he labored fervently for them in prayers. The word, laboring, is where we get our word agony. It’s an athletic term. It’s the picture of intense athletic activity. 
 
It says in verse 13 that he labors with great zeal, that is, intense desire. What’s he doing?
 
He’s not playing a game. This man Epaphras is unwavering, exercising himself intensely in prayer. Think about that. If we prayed as intensely as we played no telling what God will do. Could I encourage you to increase your prayers that God will use us as a fellowship and as individual Christians. Have a prayer time every day and pray for yourself and pray for one another.
 
In verse 12 he says Epaphras is praying that you will stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. Look at the word, complete. It’s the same word that is used back over in chapter 2, verse 10. “And you are complete in him.” You are complete in Jesus Christ. Now he says Epaphras prays that you will be complete in all the will of God. 
He is saying that you might be experimentally what you are positionally. He wants you to be everything God saved you to be. What a wonderful man is Epaphras.
       
In verse 14 there’s another good one--Luke, the beloved physician. Luke was evidently the personal physician of Paul. He is also the author of two books of the Bible--the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. 
 
I think Paul and Luke must have been such good companions because they had a great deal in common. Both were highly educated. Both had a great deal of culture. Now they are committed together in one fellowship in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. 
 
Did you know that he was with Paul all the way? You come to II Timothy 4, the last letter that Paul wrote and he says in that letter, “Only Luke is with me.” He stayed with him all the way.
       
Look at this next one.
 
“and Demas” There’s a story in that name. He’s mentioned three times in the Bible. He’s mentioned in the book of Philemon verse 24 where he is there a
Fellow laborer. Here he is just called Demas. 
 
And then in II Timothy 4:10 we find Paul saying “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world and has departed unto Thessalonica.”
 
Isn’t that a tragedy! Isn’t that awful! He has forsaken. 
 
Someone asked if he went into deep sin. I really don’t think he did. John Bunyan thinks the problem was his love of money. I think Demas got to looking around and saw Paul in prison. He saw all the finery of the rich and the famous in Rome. The music, the feasts, the gorgeous homes, and I think the devil got on his shoulder and began to whisper in his ear.
 
“Now Demas, which would you rather have a jail cell with Paul, or would you rather have one of these fine houses? It will all be yours if you will sell out to me.” So Demas left.
       
There is always the danger of becoming a Demas. It doesn’t have to be overt and obvious. It can just be ambivalence. People desert on God and never miss a church service. 
 
The messengers, the greeters, and
 
One other group.
 
III. THE OTHERS.
       
Verse 15
 
Their names aren’t even mentioned except for Nymphas. It’s just the brethren and the church in his house. 
 
Would you serve Jesus if you never got your name mentioned anywhere? Would you follow Jesus Christ if you never get any recognition? Here were some people who didn’t get their names mentioned and yet they are faithful. They are part of the church. They are servants of the Lord.
       
Your name is not in here. My name is not in here. Our names are not on that list.
 
But there’s another list. You may not have your name in here, but there’s another list up there. It’s called the Lamb’s Book of Life. You can get your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life if you will receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Invite Him into your heart and life and your name will be in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
 
Won’t you give your heart and life to the Lord Jesus Christ?
 
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