Partners in the Gospel
Father, let me know that at the heart of turbulence there is an inner calm that comes from faith in You.
Read Colossians 4:7-18
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
God has placed us alongside a unique set of fellow believers. Recall the rich fellowships you have enjoyed over the years; friendships which have lasted, those who were there for a season and a special reason, others who taught you life-lessons.
Teams matter. They represent God’s chosen strategy for ministry. We may think of Paul as a solo operator, a superhero clad in emotional asbestos, but these closing paragraphs show us his need of friendship and support. There are about 70 people mentioned by name in the New Testament of whom we would never have heard were it not for their association with Paul. As elsewhere (2 Tim. 4:9-21), this letter closes with such a reminder.
First, we need friends. The language of this section is full of warmth and gratitude for dear friends who supported and encouraged him. They carried news and greetings; comforted, prayed, gave medical support, and practiced hospitality. Paul couldn’t have managed without them, and neither can we. Second, we are servants. In fact, some translations soften the word (7), which is more properly translated “slave.” The list of names is not a formal roll call, a list of dignitaries with titles and theological degrees. It is written in the language of brotherly support and humble service. This is much needed in the church, where Christians easily forget their servant role and stand on their dignity or create a hierarchy. Third, we need partners. Look at the people who worked alongside Paul. They were both Jew and Gentile, men and women. There is also the intriguing reference to Aristarchus, a fellow prisoner, and to Mark, a previous failure now warmly reinstated (Acts 15:36-41; 2 Tim. 4:11). It was because of the Gospel that this rich variety of people became partners with Paul in the task of mission.
It is entirely appropriate, then, that this small letter closes with the one word that underlies that. It is the word we need for our life, our work and our partnership in the Gospel: “Grace be with you” (18).
Can you think of some friendships in your life that you initiated? Can you think of some that you could initiate? Is there a broken relationship in your life that you should seek to restore? What are you willing to do and when?
Gracious God, I thank You for the relationships I have experienced over the years. Some I learned from through pain, others spurred me on with their example.
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