40 day bible challenge
Day 23 | Colossians 4:10-18
My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.
Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.”
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. colossians 4:10-18
just a list of names?
When I first read this passage it seemed that Paul, writing from prison, was just listing a bundle of names. He lists several: Aristarchus, Mark, Justus, Epaphra, Luke, Demas, Nympha, Archippus, and finally himself. It was in verse 18 that I realised this passage is so much more than that – it is about freedom and what we choose to do with it.
Paul isn’t mindlessly listing names; they are mostly individuals praying for the people of Colossae. Many of these people are physically chained in prison, having their freedom restricted. It is likely Paul was placed in prison for his Christian beliefs and his role in challenging societal norms. In listing the different names, I get the sense of a fellowship being formed by different people from different walks of life. There is a doctor (presumably also in prison) and a woman who is starting a church in her home. I think that the passage illustrates the strength that is found in community –these people are supporting one another in their shared vision of hope.
“This passage is about freedom and what we choose to do with it”
supporting each other
I have found three challenges in this passage and here is the first: What would it be like to live in a world where support overrides competition?
What strikes me is that in life, when awful things happen to us (because life is not without ups and downs), we ask for prayer – and that’s good – that action alone, I believe, shows a faith in prayer. Paul, however, is listing people who are with him in prison and who are not asking for prayer but giving it.
praying even when we don’t feel like it
Here is the second challenge: To pray for others when we don’t feel like praying at all.
There is so much hope in what Paul is saying here – he does not dwell on his situation but he asks that the Colossians ‘remember my chains’. I think this is one of the most important sections of this passage because it shows the inspiring power of faith. One of my favourite quotes is, ‘For to have faith is to have wings’ by J.M Barrie, and I think that quote perfectly depicts what I see in this passage. The chains that are restricting Paul are both the literal chains in prison, restraining his freedom, and the chains we all possess that pull us back from progression. Whilst the dark parts of our day-to-day life might try and hold us back or push us down, our faith, our belief in the power of prayer and goodness transcends those darker moments.
inspired by faith
Here is the third challenge: Be inspired in your everyday life by the power we possess to do good, and to create change through our faith.
Faith is freedom.
We’re doing a 40 Day Bible Challenge as a Student Church to engage more with the Bible and the daily podcasts we do here as a church.
To listen to today’s podcast on the same passage as above click here.