“And say to Archippus, ‘Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.’”
Paul closes out his letter to the Colossians by referring to the ministries of a number of believers. Luke, Mark and Barnabas are very well-known, while others, like Tychicus and Epaphras, are a little less familiar to some of us. In each case, Paul is referring to them in a positive light, and speaking of the effectiveness of their ministries. Tychicus was the faithful traveler who delivered this letter, and others, to its recipients. Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus are mentioned as fellow prisoners and fellow workers for the Kingdom, while Epaphras is called a bondservant, and described as one who labors fervently for the salvation of others. Tucked away in this list of giants, men who had a significant impact upon this world for God’s Kingdom, is reference to a man named Archippus. While we know very little about him, (he is mentioned only here and in Philemon), we do find him the subject of an important exhortation.
“And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”
While we are not given great detail, we can surmise from what Paul writes, that Archippus had been called and equipped by God for a certain ministry and he was neglecting to fulfill it. It may have been during a Bible study, that Archippus was first stirred with the sense that God might want to use him. He may have contacted the leadership of his church and received prayer and instruction on the matter. However he received the call of God, it is quite apparent he was not doing that which God had called him. Paul’s exhortation might be paraphrased as “Archippus, get busy.”
I think his story is an all too common one. I believe, many of us have sensed the call of God on our lives as it relates to serving the Lord in our homes, churches and community, only to be discouraged by our own weaknesses or by the greatness of the task. Some have taken the initial steps to fulfill the call of God, only to be disheartened, and find themselves on the sidelines, watching. Paul’s exhortation to us is “take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” Get busy and get to work! While there may be a long list of excuses justifying why we are not currently serving the Lord, these are all trumped by the fact that God has called you, and He will always equip those whom He calls. If you do not sense that you are equipped, it may be because you are not doing what He asks. There was no reason for Peter to be buoyant until his feet touched the water. (Matthew 14:25-30)
It is encouraging to note, there is one further reference to Archippus in Scripture. He is mentioned in Paul’s letter to Philemon, where he is called a fellow soldier. It seems he took the exhortation seriously. He got busy doing what God had called him to do, the kingdom was furthered, and he was honored. If you are not sure what God has called you to do, simply sit before Him and make yourself available. Jesus said we should pray for more laborers for the harvest is awaiting.
Questions for Colossians 4
1. In verse 1, how does God tell us that Christian managers, bosses, and employers ought to treat their employees and staff? Why should they treat them that way?
2. In verses 2-4 Paul exhorts the Colossians to a diligent, thankful prayer life, and asks them to pray for him as well. What does he ask them to pray for? Read Ephesians 6:18-20 for a similar prayer. According to these two passages, how should the word of God be communicated? Pray for all those at Calvary Chapel who teach the Word of God, that they would communicate it in these ways.
3. In verses 5-6, how does Paul tells us to conduct our relationships with unbelievers? What elements should direct our conversations with them?
4. Tychicus and Onesimus are mentioned as two people who Paul has entrusted with some ministry responsibility. What characteristics do they share, and why are these critical to being a servant of God?
a. For further study, Tychicus is mentioned in Acts 20, Ephesians 6, 2 Timothy 4, and Titus 3 as well as this chapter.
b. Onesimus is the runaway slave whom Paul led to Christ in jail. His story in found in the book of Philemon. He was a criminal whose crime was punishable by death before God stepped in saved him and transformed his life. What does it say about God that He can use a life that was headed for destruction?
5. Paul mentions three Jewish friends who stayed with him in prison. No particular ministry is listed of them except this: they were a comfort to Paul. Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. Who might God want to use you to minister His comfort to?
6. In verses 12-13, Paul tells the Colossians about Epaphras, one who loves, prays for, and sends his greeting to the Colossian church. Epaphras stands as an example of the type of prayer life that Paul is exhorting them to back in verse 2. How do you feel when you find out that someone has been praying for you? The greatest thing that we can do for someone is to be praying for them, and sometimes it is the only thing we can do. Take time to pray for people in your life…no matter where they are!
7. There are a number of other people whose names are mentioned in the rest of the chapter. As you read about them consider that we are not all the same and can be at very different points in our walks with the Lord, with different callings, and different ministries. Do any of the following people’s lives minister to you?
a. Luke – the same author of the gospel of Luke, and a longtime ministry partner of Paul’s. He was a doctor!
b. Demas – a man who at one time served the Lord heartily, but later falls away.
c. Nymphas – a man who opened up his home for Christians to meet there.
d. Archippus – a man who had been appointed to ministry, and needed exhortation and encouragement to stay the course.