Day 12

Final Greetings

from the Colossians reading plan


Colossians 4:7-18, Romans 15:30-33, Philippians 1:3-7

BY Raechel Myers

Text: Colossians 4:7-18, Romans 15:30-33, Philippians 1:3-7

I like to think of the final greetings in Paul’s letters as the “say hello to your mother for me” section. He opens with his typical “grace and peace,” follows with some thanksgiving and prayer, then gets down to business. By the end, he often zeroes in on some very specific housekeeping matters before he closes.

Have you noticed this pattern, too?

  • Grace & peace.
  • I’m thankful for you. I pray for you.
  • Do not forsake the true-true-true gospel.
  • But really, don’t forget what being a Christ follower means and what it doesn’t mean.
  • Be good to each other.
  • Say hi to so-and-so for me. (Or, put more accurately: When you bump into these people, listen to what they say and take care of them. Oh, and this person says hello!)
  • Also, this really is me sending this note. (Paul often dictated his letters, then signed them with his own hand at the end.)

It’s the housekeeping piece at the end that, though often overlooked, contains some of the most interesting little details of Paul’s letters. He’s naming names. Arranging meetings. Making sure people are looking out for each other. He’s caring for the church as a whole—the body of Christ.

For fun (and because there is always something to learn!), let’s take a closer look at the people Paul mentions. What is so important about these folks, anyway?

Tychicus was a native of Asia Minor who delivered this letter to Colossae, as well as the letter to the church in Ephesus and Paul’s personal letter to Philemon. (Isn’t it so cool that God used Tychicus as a courier for some of the most important mail in Christendom?)

Onesimus may be my personal favorite. He was Philemon’s slave, but when he escaped to Rome he met Paul and then Jesus. (The book of Philemon is a super-quick, super-compelling letter from Paul to Philemon, calling in a big favor: he asks Philemon to take Onesimus back, not as a slave, but as a brother in Christ.)

Aristarchus was from Thessalonica. He joined Paul on his journey and gave his life and freedom so that others may know Christ.

Mark actually had a bit of a reputation because he bailed on Paul early on, which caused a falling out between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:13, 15:39). As Mark matured spiritually, he returned to work alongside Paul, who instructed the church to welcome Mark back.

Epaphras was from Colossae, too. Colossians 4:12 says he “contended” for the Church in his prayers. The Greek word for “contend” here means “to fight for.” (Isn’t it good to remember that one of the best ways we can fight for Christ’s church is by praying for her?)

Luke was, of course, the author of the Gospel that bears his name, as well as the book of Acts. It seems Luke stayed with Paul throughout his imprisonment, aiding in the ministry of the gospel.

Demas has sort of a bummer of a story. He deserted Paul because “he loved this present world” (2 Timothy 4:10). (Man, I hate how painfully close-to-home Demas’ two-second story feels.)

Nympha was a Christian woman who had a lot of money and hosted the church in her home. She gave what she had for the gospel.

Finally, Paul charges Archippus (possibly the son of Philemon) to pay attention to the ministry he has received in the Lord, so that he may accomplish it (Colossians 4:17).

You guys. That is a lot of people. None of them were perfect, yet Paul intentionally and affectionately included them by name in his letter. Among this web of individuals and cities, there was a lot of brokenness, disappointment, and even betrayal.

Does it help you to see that the church then looked a lot like the church does today? It was full of flawed people who needed to forgive and be forgiven. They forgot the true gospel was for them and for each other. There was real hurt and genuine restoration.

As we close out this series of letters from Paul to the early church, let’s pay attention to how wildly relevant even his final greetings are to us as the church today.

Restoration among believers is still possible.
Fighting for the church sometimes just means praying for her.
The temptation to love this present world isn’t a new one.
And best of all? The truth of the gospel hasn’t budged one bit.

It was true for Paul and his friends then. And it is true for you and for me today. Thanks be to God!

Post Comments (66)

66 thoughts on "Final Greetings"

  1. ed sheeran album says:

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  2. Kelly says:

    I really love todays message and reading. So often I skimmed over all the names not knowing anything about Paul’s little intricacies when he wrote to the churches. But, recently my kids and I read the book Twice Freed and its a historical fiction story about this very time frame! It’s about Philemon, his son Archippus and Onesimus the slave he brought back home. It has really made the text come alive for me and I hope some of you are able to read it!

    Raechel, thank you so much for the depth into the text, the details are what bring it to life and I think many of us tend to not actually “study” the text, but skim until we get it. Thank you!

  3. Hannah Scarlett Smith says:

    I love this! I’ve been delving into a lot of the “books” written by Paul lately, and though they aren’t new to me, every single time I find new things. Lately,I’ve just admired and been inspired by how he writes,and the fact that he’s fighting for the Love of the church in his letters to them, so full of instruction and encouragement. I love his heart for the people in different places, that he’s writing to help these groups that gather in their homes to serve Jesus. (And gotta love the “say hi to so and so for me” parts. )This makes me just want to get out paper and pencil and write to some of my far-away sisters in Christ!

  4. Anna says:

    Beautifully said. I work with a homeless ministry and the past two weeks have heard story after story of pain, fear, rejection, and sadness. And I want to fight for the women who have shared these stories but there is very little I can do…except pray. And this helped to remind me that “fighting for the church (these homeless women, in my case), sometimes just means praying”. That’s a powerful statement I needed to hear, and a reminder to pray. Also reminds me that we all have a role to play!

  5. Courtney C. says:

    Amen!

  6. Frances says:

    Is there a place for feedback on the new webpage? The new page is pretty but it so spread out it is harder to see everything… and makes it much slower to navigate. Hope this helps in your adjusting things! Thanks!

  7. michelle of LA CA says:

    dljl;ajd

  8. Gema says:

    Amen! How great is it that Paul always encourages us to keep on fighting the good fight, to never give up, and to always keep our eyes on God. But even better how great is it that he reminds us that we are not perfect and that we are no different than the old church. So encouraging to now that even with our flaws God works through us. Glory be to God for we can do all things through him that strengthens us.

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