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                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS"

                      God's "Second String" (4:7-18)

INTRODUCTION

1. We have stressed throughout this study of Colossians that we are
   "complete in Christ" - cf. Col 2:9

2. To be "complete in Christ", or "perfect in Christ" (Col 1:28), is
   certainly to be the goal of every Christian
   a. Does this mean that those who are in Christ are to be exactly
      alike in every way?
   b. Should we expect every mature Christian to be duplicates of one
      another in ability and service?

3. No, it does not, and that becomes especially clear as we consider
   Paul's closing comments concerning several individuals who were
   instrumental to the success of Paul's ministry

4. Reading Paul's comments about these individuals reminds me of the key
   to any successful sports team:  the strength of the "second string"
   that supports the key players

5. So as we come to this last section of the Book of Colossians, I hope
   we do not consider these closing comments of Paul as something to
   quickly gloss over
   a. There are important lessons we can glean from these verses
   b. We are reminded of the need and the value of "God's Second String"

[First, we are introduced to...]

I. THE MEN WHO WERE MESSENGERS (7-9)

   A. TYCHICUS (7-8)
      1. Described as "a beloved brother, a faithful minister, and a
         fellow servant in the Lord"
         a. We read of him in Ac 20:7, as one of those who accompanied
            Paul
         b. Again in Ep 6:21-22, where he performed the same duties as
            outlined in Col 4:7-8
         c. And also in Tit 3:12 and 2Ti 4:12, where he continues to
            serve Paul as a messenger
      2. He might have been one of the brethren referred to in 2Co 8:
         23, who were called "messengers of the churches, the glory of
         Christ"

   B. ONESIMUS (9)
      1. Also "a faithful and beloved brother"
      2. Who was from Colosse (cf., "who is one of you")
      3. We learn from the Epistle to Philemon that Onesimus was a
         runaway slave converted by Paul and sent back
      4. He, too, was serving as a messenger for Paul

[Because of men like these, the influence of the apostles was able to
spread much farther than if they were by themselves.  And that also
means the influence of the gospel spread much farther!

Next, we read of...]

II. THE MEN WHO WERE COMFORTERS (10-11)

   A. ARISTARCHUS (10a)
      1. A "fellow prisoner"
      2. He also had been a fellow traveler of Paul - Ac 20:4
         a. Who nearly lost his life to the riot in Ephesus - Ac 19:29
         b. Who sailed with Paul to Rome - Ac 27:2
      3. And was now in Rome with Paul, sending greetings

   B. MARK (10b)
      1. The writer of the second Gospel, he was the cousin (nephew) of
         Barnabas
         a. The church in Jerusalem met in his mother's house - Ac
            12:12
         b. Started out with Paul and Barnabas on their first journey,
            but then turned back - Ac 13:1-13
         c. He later became a bone of contention between Paul and
            Barnabas - Ac 15:36-41
         d. But eventually proved "profitable" to Paul for service -
            2Ti 4:11
     2.  Even now, he is included with those who Paul said "proved to be
         a comfort to me"

   C. JESUS, CALLED JUSTUS (11)
      1. Little is known of this man, except that he was a Jew ("of the
         circumcision") and a "fellow worker for the kingdom"
      2. He, too, was a comfort to Paul

[No man can produce what they are capable of producing, unless they
receive the right kind of encouragement.

Just as Barnabas (the "son of encouragement" - Ac 4:36) had been the
one to encourage a young man who made a mistake (i.e., John Mark) and
made him profitable, so now that young man with two others were
comforting the apostle Paul in his trials.  With such comfort, Paul was
able to continue his work while awaiting trial before Caesar.

Now let's notice...]

III. THE MAN WHO PRAYED (12-13)

   A. EPAPHRAS, THE PERSON WHO STARTED THE CHURCH AT COLOSSE - CO 1:7-8
      1. He was from Colosse ("one of you")
      2. He cared deeply for them and those in Laodicea and Hierapolis
      3. He too was a "fellow prisoner" (Phm 23); what could he do
         for those so far away?

   B. EPAPHRAS, A MAN OF PRAYER...
      1. He could at least pray for his brethren!
      2. And pray he did...
         a. He prayed "constantly" ("always")
         b. He prayed "fervently" ("laboring fervently")
         c. He prayed "personally" ("for you")
         d. He prayed "with a goal in mind" ("that you may stand perfect
            and complete...")

[Just as one does not have to be on the court to contribute to a team's
success, one does not have to be present to be a blessing to others!
So Paul himself realized, and often solicited the prayers of others on
his behalf (e.g., 2Th 3:1-2).

On a bittersweet note, we now consider...]

IV. TWO MEN OF CONTRAST (14)

   A. LUKE, THE "BELOVED PHYSICIAN"...
      1. A fellow traveler with Paul on a number of his journeys - Ac
         16:10; 20:5; 27:1 (note the personal pronouns "we", "us")
      2. He was used by the Holy Spirit to write over half of the New
         Testament!
         a. He penned both the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts
         b. In total volume, they constitute the majority of the New
            Testament
      3. He was faithful to Paul to the end - 2Ti 4:11

   B. DEMAS, WHO LATER FORSOOK PAUL...
      1. At the time Colossians and Philemon was written, Demas was a
         "fellow laborer"
      2. But not long after, it was said of him, "Demas has forsaken me,
         having loved this present world" - 2Ti 4:10

CONCLUSION

1. Demas serves as a sober reminder of the need to remain steadfast to
   the end - cf. also Re 2:10

2. But the others in this passage remind us that the spread of the
   gospel during the first century was not accomplished through the
   efforts of great men like Paul and the twelve apostles alone

3. It was greatly assisted by humble men and women willing to serve as
   "God's Second String"
   a. Who served as messengers, comforters, prayer warriors, and
      servants to those in positions of greater influence than
      themselves (7-14)
   b. Who opened their hearts and their homes to the service of the
      church, as did Nymphas (15)

4. If the gospel is to spread today, there is also a need for "God's
   Second String"!
   a. Are we willing to do whatever we can in service to the Lord,
      whether it be great or small?
   b. Then let Paul closing remarks to a man named Archippus serve as an
      admonition to us as well:

      "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord,
       that you may fulfill it." - Col 4:17

5. Whatever our calling, whatever our ability, let us be faithful to the
   Lord!

As Paul closed his epistle to the Colossians in his own personal
handwriting (18), so we close this series of sermon outlines:

                 "Grace be with you.  Amen"

If we truly let Jesus be our "All-Sufficient And Pre-Eminent Savior",
then God's grace will certainly be with us!
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