Colossians 4:7-18 Sermon

  • 30 August 2022
  • Stuart Robinson

I am always heartened by this final part of Paul’s letter to the Colossians because it reminds me that God does great things through ordinary people; people like us; people caught up in the drama’s, disappointments, and joys of life.

We learn from this text that Paul – who has personally penned this wonderfully uplifting letter (4:18) – is with his colleague Aristarchus, in prison (4:10,18). 

And his overarching concern is for the welfare of the people of God, and the team that serves them. 

Indeed, he is sending his special envoy, Tychicus, to the people in the church in Colossae, that he may ‘encourage their hearts’ (4:8).

I want to look at Paul’s final words to this little church – words that were then read to the surrounding little churches, and show you how we can share in ministry in the same way Paul and his team did.

In fact, that is where we shall start.

With the team. 

People ministering to people. 

Paul was no ‘lone ranger’.

He invited people to share in the work to which Jesus had called him. 

This letter is addressed to the church in Colossae, and it comes from Paul and his apprentice, Timothy (Colossians 1:1), but it references (in this last chapter) at least 11 other co-workers.

And they come from very different cultures, backgrounds, language groups, and contexts. 

The cohort includes men, women, scholars, medical professionals, the very wealthy, the very poor, and a former runaway slave.

Here’s the list:












In a moment, I want to speak about just 2 of these people, but at this point please note the kinds of things God is calling them to; these are ministries and activities in which we also can share this very day in the advance of God’s kingdom and in the service of his people.

First, they share what God is doing in their lives and through their ministries. 

Tychicus along with Onesimus (vv, 7 and 9), we are told, will visit with the church in Colossae and bring news of what God is doing through Paul (who is in prison). 

Their meeting together will bring mutual encouragement (and comfort – a word Paul uses in verse 11).

And that is exactly why we gather in the way we do – and why we have testimonies (make sure you are here next week to hear Ken Saurajen’s story), and why send out Community News, and have Zoom study groups, and Community Lunch, and morning tea after the service, and the like. 

Mutual encouragement, edification, and fellowship – and you do it so well, dear friends.

Indeed, at this very moment you are sharing in gospel ministry, and in the advance of God’s kingdom.

Second, prayer. 

And the thing about prayer is that we can all share in this ministry. 

Mobility, health, proximity, experience, age, stage, have little or no bearing on our ability to pray.

We are told in verse 12 that Epaphras (who most likely started the church – see 1:7) is absolutely committed to the well being of the church (verse 13) and his main strategy is prayer. 

Paul says, ‘Epaphras is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in the will of God, mature and fully assured’ (verse 12). 

What an encouragement that must have been to those first century Christians. 

Not only do they matter to God, they matter to the people of God. 

Epaphras is on his knees before the Lord praying for members of this church to grow in their faith, to walk in the will and way of the Lord, and not be distracted from all that God has called them to.

And you do that. 

You use our prayer notes each week to pray for people, you come along to the Tuesday night Zoom prayer meeting, you pray over the phone with and for parishioners, you send letters and emails that contain prayers and information for prayer, you spend time in personal devotion and prayer, you attend community prayer events, and you use the prayer notes from CMS and BCA  and other groups that are published in Community News each week.

Yes, like the team that Paul references in Colossians 4 – those used of God to bless and grow the church in Colossae, you are being used of God to bless and grow the church across this peninsula.

And if you have any misgivings, or doubts about God’s ability to use you in changing the world for Jesus, please do consider the ministries of Onesimus (mentioned in verse 9) and Nympha (mentioned in verse 15).

Briefly then, Onesimus.

Paul speaks of Onesimus as ‘our faithful and dear brother’ – 4:9. 

That phrase speaks to the radical transformation that an encounter with Jesus brings.

You see, Paul first met Onesimus in prison – and you can read about it in Paul’s letter to Philemon – the leader of another local church.  

It appears that Onesimus was a run-away slave (Philemon 16), who had stolen from his master (Philemon 18) – but Paul had led him to saving faith in Jesus (Philemon 10), and he even referred to him as his ‘son’ (Philemon 10).

At the end of his prison sentence, Paul then sent the newly converted Onesimus back to his hometown and to his master, Philemon, as a ‘brother in the Lord (Philemon 16).

Yes, Onesimus had ‘form’. 

He was a man with a past.

And yet, here he is on Paul’s team, and he is warmly referred to by Paul as ‘our faithful and dear brother’ (Colossians 4:9).

Onesimus’ story well illustrates that principle (from II Corinthians 5:17) that when anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.

So, whatever your back story, you are of infinite and eternal worth to God the Father, who through Christ has redeemed you (when you trusted Jesus) – and has called you to serve in this place at this time.


And so, we close with Nympha, who is mentioned in 4:15).

Now, it is likely that Nympha had given up her Roman gods, or turned from some form of paganism to Christ.

And now she’s the pastor and leader of a church that is meeting in her house in the Colossae/Laodicea region. 

People are being equipped to reach others for Jesus because of her conversion, and her willingness to use her resources and position, to advance the gospel.

Yes, here is this brave woman – in a very masculine religious and cultural milieu, courageously shining for Christ – such that she is singled out by Paul for special mention and commendation (Colossians 4:15).

Our Vision is to bring Light to the City, Refreshment to the Soul, and as God did just that through Paul and Onesimus and Nympha, so too will he continue that great work in and through you.


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