Sábado, 18 de Novembro de 2017
   
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Epaphras, Where Art Thou?

The Epaphras name appears a few times in the Bible referring to a faithful servant of Christ who ministered in the Colossian church. The few times he is mentioned reflect the fact of being a really special figure, providing a beautiful model for every believer. In this ministry, I want to highlight some aspects of this model, in the expectation that the brothers feel encouraged to play in his ecclesiastical living the same practices and virtues demonstrated by Epaphras.

Firstly, a communicator Epafras was agent (Cl 1.7,8). He worked not only as a master in the Colossian church (Cl 1.7), but also (do not be scared!) As a "tax" who reported to Paul the good and bad things he saw there, all with the goal of helping the apostle to take better care of Christ's flock.

In fact, Epaphras visited Paul, who was imprisoned in Rome, and told him about the faith and love of the Colossians, reporting back to the apostle who left very satisfied and also gave rise to it stimulates believers to continue cultivating those virtues (CI 1.7-9).

In addition, according to the commentators, it was certainly through Epaphras Paul knew the heresy that threatened the churches of the region (the incipient Gnosticism) and then could warn believers about their danger. This was very important because the later course of Christianity shows how Paul's rigor influenced the ancient shepherds in the rejection of this heresy. In France, for example, Saint Irenaeus (2nd century) fought bravely against the Gnostic teachers, providing plenty of "literary ammunition" for other ministers of the gospel. In the end, this firm Christian resistance did Gnosticism virtually disappear.

In fact, in the year 860, Floro of Lyons, in the prologue of the works of Irenaeus, referred to the saying that Gnosticism had fallen a "great silence" on heresies. There is no doubt, therefore, of great importance Epaphras in the weakening of that doctrinal lie, since, acting as agent communicator, made possible the attack against diversion.

The role of a communicator agent - this type of tax that sees and warns - is critical because the pastor, even though the episkopos (ie supervisor), has only two eyes. Of course, God shows him hazards and points deviations in surprising ways, but to help communicators stakeholders is key and Bible (1 Cor 1:11), as does the pastor to see what it should do, but for some reason, cannot.

Epaphras was also a fighter agent. He fought to the Colossians stand firm, be mature and have conviction of the truth (Cl 4.12,13). As he struggled?

He struggled in prayer. The prayer requires effort, dedication, discipline, dedication and perseverance. By demanding that everything is easy to see why many people now little. The fighter agent, however, remains in its cry Trench, engaging in a battle in which he prays for the church in the heart bleeding for it to be strong and mature.

In doing so, Epaphras also expressed concern with the church. This concern was revealed in interest, involvement and participation. Indeed, the fighter agent cares about the church and therefore suffers for her as Epaphras suffered. This suffering, however, showed that Epaphras vision of life was correct, indicating that one of the main targets of its existence was the good of the people of God. In fact, to suffer for the church, Epaphras held this view even more alive.

When I was a boy, I read a story of Jules Verne called The Czar mail (1876), in which the character Michael Strogoff out in the performance of a task involving deliver a secret message from the Tsar Grand Duke. On the way, however, he was arrested and blinded his eyes with an iron on coals. When, finally, Michael was released and took the bandages from his face, everyone realized that his eyes were injured, but not blind. Is that when the eyes of our hero were being burned, he remembered the girl he loved and wept so that the tears prevented the hot iron the blinded.

Our tears also prevent blind we stay. While we mourn the church, we have the right vision of what is important in this world. But when the people of God ceases to be the reason of our tears of worry, soon our essential vision disappears and we come to spend their lives in search of secondary things.

Finally, Epaphras was a comforting agent. In Philemon 23rd found that he was always beside Paul in prison. That's what makes it a comforting agent, it is difficult to imagine how the church needs brothers as well.

Undoubtedly, we also have imprisoned brothers. Are disciples of Jesus who are chained in a dungeon of fear, doubts, anxieties, of illness, loneliness, family difficulties, domestic oppression, professional or social ... They are sheep who have been injured, bloodied, tired and thirsty. They need comforting agents like Epaphras, men and women of God to appear in the darkness bringing some relief.

Yes, the church needs more men like that communicator agent, fighter and comforting that Paul met. Epaphras, where are you?

Pr. Marcos Granconato
Soli Deo gloria
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