A Study of Colossians 4:12–13
Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis. (Colossians 4:12–13)
We first met Epaphras in chapter 1, where we found out that the Colossian saints learned the gospel of the grace of God from him:
Colossians 1:5–8 — “…the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.”
According to Philemon 1:23, Epaphras was another fellow prisoner with Paul. As such, we are not told whether he went to prison with the apostle or if he found Paul there after he himself was sent to prison. As a fellow prisoner, he must have in some way have been imprisoned for the same cause, the mystery of Christ.
Epaphras is said to be the one that taught the Colossians. He was a minister of Christ for them, and he let Paul know the love that the saints had for him. This caused Paul to pray unceasingly that the saints of this assembly would be “filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9). Now the apostle not only prayed that the Colossian saints would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, but he wrote this epistle to them by the will of God to make known unto them the knowledge of the mystery Christ.
Now that the epistle has been written, Epaphras added his salutation to it, while Paul adds that Epaphras is praying fervently that they would stand “perfect and complete in all the will of God”. The epistle begins with praying for the saints to be filled with that knowledge. It ends with prayer that they would stand in what they are taught by the epistle, which if they stand in the teachings of this epistle, they would stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. So this is a good time to review that which is “all the will of God”.
In 1:10–12, Paul says that he is praying that the saints walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing.
In 1:13–19, the subject is Christ, and not as much a command to hold Him in proper esteem, as much as the apostle declares the greatness of our Lord, so that in all things HE might have the preeminence. In knowing and coming to grips with this great message of the greatness of Christ, we do hold Him in proper esteem, and in all things He will have the preeminence. What is the most practical message for the Christian today? The greatness of Christ — that in ALL THINGS HE MIGHT HAVE THE PREEMINENCE!
In 1:23, Paul expresses his desire that the saints would continue in the faith grounded and settled and not moved away from the hope of the gospel. Being not moved away means to actively stand strong against that which would move us away.
In 1:28, the apostle writes of how he preaches, warning every man and teaching every man, each and every one of YOU, SAINTS, that every man, i.e., every one of you would be presented perfect in Christ Jesus.
In 2:2, he speaks of his conflict for the saints “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ”.
In 2:6–7, he implores the saints to walk in Christ Jesus as they received Him, that they would walk rooted and built up in Him, established in the faith.
In 2:8–15, that they would walk as they are, complete in Him.
In 2:16-23, that the saints would hold the Head and not fall back into religious practice, which is not only unnecessary, but it is contrary to the will of God, because we are complete in Him.
In 3:1–4, we are implored that because we are complete in Christ, as having died with Him to the things of the earth, that we would seek those things that are above, not the things of the earth.
In 3:5–9, we are told that since the old man has died with Christ, we are to put off the old man and his deeds, and in 3:10–4:1, we are instructed in the practical outworking of putting on the new man since we are risen with Christ.
In 4:2, we are instructed that since we have put on the new man, we are to continue in prayer and thanksgiving, and in 4:5 to walk in wisdom.
So this epistle to the Colossians is the instruction to walk and how to stand perfect and complete in all the will of God, and what His will is. Now the apostle lets the saints know how Epaphras is praying that they indeed would stand in His will. Epaphras prays with great fervor that they would stand. “And having done all, to stand. STAND THEREFORE” as the apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 6:13–14.
Epaphras did not only pray for the Colossians, he prayed for the other assemblies of the saints in the nearby cities of Hieropolis and Laodicea. If he were with us today, he would pray that each and every one of us who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ would stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. We know that it is the will of God that in all things Christ would have the preeminence “for in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the Head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:9–10).
If you would like to be complete in Christ, you must first be in Christ. We are baptized into Christ when we believe that Christ died for our sins and was buried and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. There is nothing that we can bring to God of our own righteousness or religion to settle the matter with Him. We need Jesus Christ to save us from our sins and their penalty. He is ALL we need, but we do need Him. Stop trying to do it your way, and come to the Father by the way of the Son, and you will be saved from your sins, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and seated with Christ. You will be complete in Him.