Year 3 Day 95
Read - Colossians 4v7-18
Message - Scott Woodburn
I sincerely hope by this stage that you know that I'm a Presbyterian. In Northern Ireland eyes often roll when my theological leanings are discovered. Some think we're apostate while others think we are as dead as the dinosaurs. Nevertheless I am a Presbyterian. There are many reasons why this is the case but one is to do with the inter-dependance of the church. As a Presbyterian in Ballynahinch I have a bond with my fellow Presbyterians in Downpatrick, Ardglass, Clough, Seaforde, Spa, Magherahamlet, Saintfield, Comber, Ballygowan, Killyleagh, Killinchy, Carryduff, Boardmills, Raffrey, Kilmore and Crossgar. Eyes may roll but I'm still an unashamed Presbyterian.
I don't know what Paul would say to Presbyterians in 2022. I'm sure he would have much to correct and I'm certain he would find cause to rebuke us, but I hope he would appreciate our commitment to the wider church. Paul wasn't a man who stood alone. As the letter to the Colossians draws to a close Paul finishes with a "who's who" of the church.
Tychius was charged with travelling to Colossae with news of the Apostle Paul (v7). The activities of the church around the world and even down the road should always concern us. We should be thankful for Gospel preaching in Downpatrick just as we should be praying against opposition to the Gospel in Saudi Arabia. Tychius was to tell the church how Paul was doing with a view to encouraging their souls (v8).
Tychius didn't travel alone, instead Philemon's runaway slave Onesimus was sent with him (v9). Throughout the Scriptures two or three witnesses are seen as a sure testimony of truth and so Onesimus would confirm Tychius' account. However it wasn't just for truth's sake that the men travelled together. Life is tough, the road is long and every Christian needs sweet fellowship. I'm certain Tychius and Onesimus were a tremendous help to one another on the way to Colossae.
Even those who wouldn't make the journey were still concerned for the welfare of the Colossian church. Aristarchus, Mark, Jesus (not Christ but a man who was also called Justus), Luke and Demas all sent greetings (v10&14). They were a real comfort to Paul and just as the Apostle loved the Colossians, so too did his friends.
Epaphras greeted the church too and more than that he struggled for the Colossians in prayer. He wanted them to grow in their faith so that they would be both mature and fully assured in God's will (v12). Epaphras prayed for them and had worked hard for the churches in Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis (v13).
Paul sent his own greetings to the church and to Nympha and the church that met at her house (v15). Additionally he commanded that his letter be read in both Colossae and Laodicea (v16) before finally sending word to Archippus that he was to fulfil the ministry that he had received in the Lord (v17). Comfort, command and challenge all formed a part of the relationship between Paul and the churches.
The Colossians were to remember Paul's imprisonment for the sake of the Gospel but with a handwritten greeting and a word of grace, the letter to the Colossians came to an end (v18).
It is tempting to breeze over these final verses. It is hard to pronounce some of these names and the content seems trivial compared to the rest of the letter. I hope we don't make that mistake. The final verses of this Spirit inspired and Spirit kept letter encourage us to think beyond the walls of our own church and the boundaries of our own town. Brothers and sisters, we are part of something much bigger than we can imagine. The church of Christ knows no borders and is not confined to one single nation. If you know Christ in Ballynahinch then you have a blood-won bond with Joonas in Finland and Olivia in Korea and Balint in Romania and Victor in Nigeria and Matt in Norway and Alan in Crossgar. Don't ever take it for granted but instead take your part in, pray for, love and encourage the beautiful Bride of Christ.
Q90 How is the Word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation? That the Word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence, preparation, and prayer; receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.