Take Heed to the Ministry

Col. 4:17-18.

And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.

The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.

Archippus was apparently a Christian leader in Colosse. It is possible he was a pastor, though I could find no proof of that. In any case, he was known in the Colossian Christian community, and was most likely a lay leader or pastor in the congregation of believers.

So the question is, why did Paul single him out with a warning to pay attention to his calling, and fulfill it?

It is easy to jump to the conclusion that he was failing in some way, but that is only supposition. I believe Paul’s message to him was more by way of encouragement to stay strong in the battle. There was so much that easily distracted the Colossian believers–heresy, looming persecution, problems within the congregation–that Paul must have felt compelled to tell Archippus, through the Colossian letter, not to give up; not to falter, but to forge ahead with courage and strength.

Pastors and lay leaders need encouragement! They get more than their fair share of criticism and discouragement. I am a preacher’s kid, and I know the weight that a pastor carries. So often, the problems arise not from the outside, from unbelievers, but from within the church itself. Dissatisfaction among believers, who choose to speak among themselves; or who go to the pastor with criticism and no encouragement or support. I’m not saying that a pastor or lay leader is above reproach. There is, however a right way to handle it when reproach is necessary. Go to Galatians 6:1-10; Matthew 18:15-20; and I Timothy 5:1. Go in prayer. Go with the goal of reconciliation.

Finally, Paul makes his usual final salutation. His practice was to dictate his letters to an amenuensis, or secretary, and then to write the final salutation in his own hand. He asks that he be remembered in prayer as a prisoner of Rome, and prays for grace for the recipients of his letter.

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