Epaphras Was A Contender
As the Apostle Paul wrapped up his letter to the church at Colossae, he mentions a man named Epaphras. This man is mentioned in only three places in the entire bible (Philemon 23, Colossians 1:7-8, and Colossians 4:12-13).
It is Colossians 4:12 that conveys the idea of Epaphras - The Contender. To be a contender, one must contend. What does it mean to contend?
The Greek word used and translated as "contend" is agonizomai. The classic Greek word means to strive, fight, or to labor strenuously. The English definition is to strive in a contest or rivalry; to vie or struggle against difficulties. I think the word perfectly describes Epaphras - a contender!
Here is what we can glean from Acts 4:12 concerning Epaphras...
First, he was like everyone else, Paul wrote to the Colossians that Epaphras was one of you. This is important because Epaphras was someone to be understood as an example. He wasn't some holier-than-thou character which everyone couldn't relate. No, to the contrary, Epaphras was someone that all could relate to, and Paul makes this clear from beginning.
Second, Epaphras was a servant of Christ, or as many translations say - a slave of Christ. This tells us just who was the boss of Epaphras' life. He was a Christ follower above all else, so he could put aside his own wants or needs, and instead, focus on what Christ would have him do. This example, by a guy everyone could relate to, gives us all real hope that we can do the same.
Third, Paul says that Epaphras was a prayer warrior for his fellow Christians. This is where Epaphras contends. He struggles or literally - wrestles in prayer for those who are in the family of Christ. What another great attribute! Instead of spending his time praying for his needs, Epaphras prays for the needs of others.
Fourth, specifically his prayers for his fellow Christians in which he contended was that they would stand mature in Christ. He knew the struggles of following Christ in a world of adversaries. He understood the power and relentless pursuit of the enemy against those who professed Christ. Therefore, his prayers centered on standing firm in Christ as mature believers.
Fifth, as firm-standing mature Christians, Epaphras also prayed they would be completely or fully assured of God's will. As decisions are made and choices are exercised, Epaphras wanted his fellow Christians to be assured of the way of the LORD.
How about you? Can you contend for your fellow Christians, that they stand firm fully matured and assured in the will of God? If so, then you too can be a modern day Epaphras. You can be a contender!