23”Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.” (Philemon 23–24 (ESV)
It is easy for believers in Christ today to believe that the Apostle Paul was like a Lone Ranger for God. By that I mean that he did not need anyone else in his ministry. He could do it all and have it all; alone. Nothing is further from the truth.
Paul not only relied upon the Lord Jesus as His Savior and Lord, but he also relied upon many other individuals in the ministry. This was the case at the beginning with his mentor Barnabas and it remained so even during his later years while in prison in Rome.
Paul mentioned several fellow servants at the conclusion of his letter to Philemon. Let us examine each one individually.
Epaphras. Paul referred to Epaphras as his fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus. Therefore, it can be concluded that Epaphras was not only a prisoner of Rome, with Paul, but also a fellow believer in Christ. Paul included Epaphras’ greetings to Philemon.
The Tyndale Bible Dictionary explains, “Epaphras was a coworker with the apostle Paul. Epaphras, a native of Colosse, was responsible for the city’s evangelization, as well as that of Laodicea and Hierapolis. Through him Paul learned of the progress of the Colossian church and thus wrote his letter to the Colossians. Paul’s high regard for Epaphras was evidenced by his use of such terms as “beloved fellow servant,” “faithful minister of Christ” (Col 1:7), and “servant of Christ” (Col 4:12), a title of esteem Paul bestowed only on one other person—Timothy (Phil 1:1). Epaphras was in prison with Paul at the time the letter to Philemon was written (Phlm 1:23).”
In the remaining names which Paul mentioned, he does not refer to them as fellow prisoners in Christ Jesus but rather fellow workers. It may be assumed that the following individuals mentioned in the letter were with Paul in Rome but were not imprisoned by Rome.
Epaphras is an example of someone who faithfully served the Lord, even though his name may not be immediately recognized today by the church. It does not matter if believers today know little about Epaphras. God knows him and that is all that matters for any of us in our service unto the Lord.
Have a blessed day in Christ. May Jesus Christ be praised.
Soli deo Gloria!