A Study of Colossians 4:15–16
Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea. (Colossians 4:15–16)
A few closing salutations from the apostle to the Colossians come as we near the end of this blessed epistle. Paul sent his own salutations through the Colossian assembly to another group of brethren in Laodicea, a city not far from Colosse.
This epistle to the Colossians was meant also for the Laodicean assembly, and there was also something meant for the Colossians to read that was from that assembly, or from there. What epistle did Paul write from Laodicea? We do not know. In fact, it may not be something from him at all, it may just be something from them that he wanted the church at Colosse to read. There is no concern over a “lost epistle”, for God is more than capable of preserving His Word. It may simply have been communication from the church of the Laodiceans to the church of the Colossians. Many have made this to be the epistle to the Ephesians, but that is just as much a conjecture as what I have stated here; and it does violence to what is actually written. Paul did not write the epistle to the Ephesians from Laodicea, and that the term “to the Ephesians” IS in the text. Some “Bible correctors” might argue otherwise, but it is not necessary nor wise to cast doubt on the Word of God because “some manuscripts omit in Ephesus”.
The Apostle states here that he wants this epistle read to the Laodiceans, for they must have needed the correction just as the Colossians did, that they also would stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. The sad fact of the churches in Asia is that they did not take heed to the apostle or to his message from the Lord Jesus Christ. That sadly includes the Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Laodiceans.
2 Timothy 1:15 — “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me…”
We, however, do not need to follow in their path. We have the message that they were given, so stand fast!
We also meet in this little salutation one Nymphas, who had an assembly (church) in his house. We find this pattern throughout Scripture, and the only reason that an assembly of believers would be required to meet somewhere other than a house is that the assembly becomes too large for the people to meet. There is no need for building programs (and budgets) to make a “beautiful house for God”. The temple in Jerusalem was just that, and even it was left to them desolate when they rejected the very Object of their Divine religion. But a church is never a building, it is the assembly of believers meeting together; and “THE Church” is the church which is His Body. It is not any one denomination of so-called Christians, nor is it the sum total of all of the religious organizations calling themselves Christian, but it is the living body of which our Lord Jesus Christ is the ever-living Head. The members are baptized by one Spirit into that body (1 Corinthians 12:13).
Now it is also not only here where a church is mentioned as in a house. In Romans 16:3–5, we meet Priscilla and Aquilla, who we first met in Acts, Jews of Rome having been expelled from Rome by Caesar, who were tentmakers like Paul, who also believed Paul’s gospel. When we meet them in Romans, we find out that they must have returned to Rome, and that they had an assembly of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ in their house. As Paul finished his course, we met them again in 2 Timothy 4:19, where Paul sent his salutation and held them in high regard. How greatly these two were used of God is not fully known, but we do know that they were used of God to teach Apollos the “way of God more perfectly” (Acts 18:26). This is not to indicate that he had some things wrong knowing “only the baptism of John” (Acts 18:25), but that his knowledge was incomplete. He did not know what God was now doing, and as He is still doing today, and that is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not even indicated whether Apollos knew anything of the Lord Jesus whatsoever; but he did after these house-church leaders got his ear!
The believer Philemon, also had a church in his house (Philemon 1:2). The witness of Scripture about this brother, along with Apphia, is that “the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother” (Philemon 1:7). Besides being a meeting place, this must have been a house where travelling saints from all over could find refreshment along with the company of other believers. How refreshing it is to meet with the saints, not in the impersonalness of a cathedral, but in the homes of the saints!
Again, Nymphas was in this number of “church-hosts”; and never think of it beneath you to have a small number of believers meeting in humble quarters. The “mega-church” movement always stresses the “small-group”, but wants to control the meetings. We must remember in this too, that there is ONE LORD, “and it ain’t them”!
In writing this, I never want to fail to leave you the reader with the clear gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I assume that most of you who are reading have already come to know the truth of that gospel, how that Christ died for our sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3–4). But maybe you have not accepted that it was for YOU that He died. Maybe you have not put your faith in Him and in Him alone for your salvation, or maybe you have been believing that your salvation and standing with God is up to you. Please reconsider and hear the witness of scripture, that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; but in Christ we are being justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. How can God do this? Because our Lord Jesus Christ settled all of your accounts, by paying the debt that you owe! Do not wait and receive the grace of God in vain — believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and THOU shalt be saved!