Paul bids farewell at this point, with a treasure of spiritual nuggets hidden in his departing words.
Paul first mentions two men well known to the Colossians: Tychicus and Onesimus (vv. 7–9). And look at their commendations! Paul values Tychicus as a faithful servant and fellow slave for Christ and His people. What a wonderful epitaph! We will read much more of Onesimus later. Paul is sending them back to give the Colossians an update on his situation.
Paul then brings greetings from three Jews and three Gentiles who are with him (vv. 10–14). Tragically, of all the Jewish fellow workers who once laboured and travelled with Paul, only Aristarchus, Mark, and Jesus Justus have remained his faithful companions through all he has endured. Do not be surprised when people who were once zealous for ministry walk away, like Demas, who later abandoned Paul. Though Demas was serving with Paul faithfully at the time when Colossians was written, sadly there will be another reference to him in a later letter of Paul’s (2 Timothy 4:10). But how encouraging it is to see Mark’s name in this list. Twelve years before he had “deserted them” (Acts 15:36-41), but now he is restored and labouring for the gospel. All these men were working agonisingly for the maturity of the Colossians.
Thirdly, Paul sends greetings to the church in Laodicea, next door to Colossae, and specifically to a church in the home of a woman named Nympha (v. 15). Christians often met in people’s homes. Paul mentions a letter he wrote to the Laodiceans (v. 16), which has presumably been lost. Paul may have been in prison, but he did not waste his time there. He continued to pray for these churches and pastor them through his letters. God has preserved a number of these letters so that we too can grow to maturity.
Finally, Paul picks up the pen from his secretary and says a goodbye filled with grace (v. 18).
What a wonderful letter. It soars with Christ-glorifying truth that influences us in every area of our lives. For 2,000 years, the words of Colossians have anchored the faith of those who have received Jesus. Let us continue to heed its message: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thank-fulness” (Colossians 2:6-7).
From these verses, what picture can you draw about the character of Christian ministry?
Write your epitaph. How would you like people to sum up your life in twenty words or less?