The Apostle Paul: Building Team

Graceful Leaders - Biblical Encouragement for Leaders

7 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.

8 I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. 9 He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.

10 My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) 11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.

16 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.

17 Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.”I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Colossians 4:7-16

Once you get by the intimidating task of reading all these ancient, foreign names, you have to be impressed. Paul was a team player. He rarely traveled alone. He likely wrote these words while under house arrest in Rome, but even there he was surrounded by friends and fellow workers. When Paul brought the gospel to a city, he always left behind an amazing array of able leaders.  Paul understood that if the Christian movement was to keep moving across the world, he couldn’t do it alone. It would take a team of people, a large team, with each member offering the church his or her special gifts.

Tychicus (vs. 7) and Onesimus (vs. 9) could be trusted to carry oral reports on Paul’s situation. Aristarchus and Justus (vss. 10-11), both converted Jews, were with Paul at critical moments and a source of great comfort and encouragement.  Mark (vs. 10), who would write the gospel that bears his name, rejoined Paul after a bitter break over Mark’s desertion of the first missionary journey. Now all is forgiven, and Paul wants to make sure the church welcomes Mark with open arms.  Epaphras (vs. 12) took the role of prayer warrior and was likely the overseer leading the churches of Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. There is Luke the faithful physician (vs. 14) with Paul to the end (2 Tim 4:11).

Demas (vs. 14) receives no accolade or affirmation. Later in 2 Timothy 4:10 we learn that he had forsaken Paul “because he loved this world.” Team members can lose their commitment and falter. Nympha (vs. 15) is mentioned because she has opened her home to become a house church. Finally in vs. 17, Paul does some coaching with Archippus who needs to be encouraged to finish what he began. We’ll never know what his task was, but it does show how easily Paul took the role of encourager.

There is a beauty to this list of names. Everyone is important to Paul. Everyone has a contribution to make. Just about everybody gets a word of encouragement.  Where there had been conflicts, there had also been forgiveness and reconciliation. Throughout his ministry and now near the end, Paul was building an amazing team who would keep the light of the Christian gospel burning bright in his absence. None of us is irreplaceable. Each of us is vital. Christian leaders are team players, who give all the glory to Christ.  It’s incredible what a team can accomplish when Christ gets the glory!  

Graceful Leaders is a series of meeting devotions designed for staff and lay leaders of Christian congregations. The series uses Biblical leaders as embodiments of grace-filled leadership in the church. The series is written by Dean Nadasdy, President, Minnesota South District, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Copies may be made and distributed within local congregations.