So we complete the list of friends that Paul mentions at the end of this letter to the Colossians. Not exhaustive at all but an insight into Paul’s thoughts that life isn’t all about theology and the work of God but it is set in the context of relationships. We are not called to be hermits but we are called to be rooted into the Church.
“Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea. Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.” (Colossians 4: 15-17)
Friend number 1 – Nympha who gave.
If you check all the translations then you will find some give the name Nymphas (male) and here I am using the NIV it is Nympha (female). It matters not, they gave their home.
We know that homes were used a lot for the ministry in Paul’s day and it still is today. Elim have a partner in northern India who are not only facing the restrictions of the pandemic but also severe persecution. At the start of the pandemic they changed their vision and closed all their church buildings and began to work under the mission statement of ‘every home a church’. That was in April of this year. We have just had the half-yearly report in from the 15 zones where their churches are (April to September) and the numbers are amazing:
Number of baptisms 1139.
Number of people ready for baptism 1618
Number of new villages reached 881
How amazing! Look what can be achieved outside of a church building when mission is the most important thing!
Paul singles out Nympha. We don’t know anything more about her. This is the only time she is mentioned in the Bible. If the one thing people say when they talk about you is that you gave, isn’t that a great achievement? Doesn’t that make you sound like someone living in the shadow of the cross?
No doubt it wasn’t easy. Giving isn’t. What you give gets worn, breaks down, gets returned damaged etc. When you give it is sacrificial. When you give you die a little. Something changes in you. Just ask a parent who has given their child to God. Just ask a lover who has let go of the most important person in their life. Giving impacts you but what emerges from your changed life is someone who looks more like Christ than ever before.
Friend number 2 – Archippus who got the job done.
We will see this man again as he appears in Philemon verse 2 and known as a fellow soldier.
Paul encourages this man to get the job done, to finish the task, to fulfil the ministry. We don’t know what that was, whether he was a church leader or a missionary. The Apostle tells him to do the job, bring it to an end and complete it. That’s what Christ-followers do. Our Saviour got the job done. He said the words, ‘It is finished’. He didn’t die with the ministry unfulfilled. He didn’t do half-job and leave us disappointed. He completed it. Whatever you can do for Him then do it with all your might till the end.
That’s the end of the list of friends. Nympha and Archippus, friends that look like Christ.
It’s not the end of the letter, we have one verse left ….