There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus;
Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Paul’s final greeting in his letters often referred to specific people who had helped him in the years of his ministry. Each one has his own story. I have thought about making a list of every person he mentions in every epistle, and doing a personality study on each one. Maybe I will 🙂
In this greeting, Paul mentions Epaphras first. He was a fellow-prisoner with Paul. The word fellow prisoner here translates literally as prisoner of war. Paul and those early believers knew they were in a spiritual battle. Some would lose their lives in the struggle. Others would disperse all over the known world, taking the gospel of Jesus Christ with them. In all the 2000+ years since that time, the gospel has never been eradicated, no matter how hard Satan and his minions try. It never will be, because it is the living Word of God. It has never worked to legislate it out of existence. Burning Bibles has been a wasted effort. God’s Word is eternal. Man cannot destroy it. Satan cannot destroy it. It is still the best-selling Book of all time.
Demas stand alone in this list of valiant men because he left the ministry after Paul’s final imprisonment. II Tim. 4:10 tells us that his “love of the world” lured him away from Paul’s side. That could mean a lot of different things, and we are not given anything more specific.
Finally, Paul calls down the grace of God on Philemon’s spirit.
Think about that. Whatever Philemon’s human reaction to Paul’s letter, whatever his justified anger may have been toward Onesimus, Paul prays the grace of God on Philemon, knowing that only God’s grace could overcome whatever anger or seeking of justice Philemon may have harbored.
I wonder, have we ever prayed for the grace of God to soothe and comfort the spirits of those who are troubled?