The letter to Philemon ends with a list of supporting players who send their greetings and implicitly endorse Paul’s missive of reconciliation.
First up is Epaphras, who by being singled out, stands alone in noteworthy acclaim. Simply and succinctly, Paul notes that Epaphras is “my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus.”
The Bible only contains two other references to Epaphras, both occurring in Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae. First, in the opening lines, Paul calls him a “dear fellow servant” and then a “faithful minister.”
Later, in his closing remarks, Paul, again confirming that Epaphras is a servant of Jesus, adds that “He is always wrestling in prayer.” I’m not really sure what it means to wrestle in prayer, but it is a compelling image. I welcome anyone who would wrestle in prayer for me — and I hope to do the same for others.
So, Epaphras is a servant of Jesus, a faithful minister, and a devotee to prayer. For this, he spends time behind bars.
Doing the right things for Jesus doesn’t necessarily keep us from suffering for him. In fact, suffering for Jesus, may just be affirmation that what we are doing for him is right.