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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Colossians: the lordship of Christ | Completing your ministry

Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.’

COLOSSIANS 4:17


 

If you’re really honest with yourself, how much attention do you pay to Paul’s final words in his epistles? Those random greetings to random people?

I’m slightly ashamed to tell you that I very rarely read them in any great detail. I feel like once you’ve got through the heavy theology stuff, the greetings at the end are a bit of an excuse to slack off in your Bible reading.

But if we skip over these greetings, we miss something important.

Take this passage, for example. In Paul’s closing reflections, he mentions nine different individuals. Each receives some form of context or introduction, or sends greetings to the church in Colossae. Each name has a story behind it. For example, Onesimus (4:9) is widely assumed to be the same Onesimus in the book of Philemon – a slave on whose behalf Paul pleads.

But the one who particularly caught my attention as I forced myself to read these names carefully was Archippus, for whom Paul has a direct message: ‘See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.’

There are so many questions raised by this one short verse. What ministry? Why hasn’t he completed it? What does it mean to ‘complete’ a ministry? Why has he been singled out to receive such specific instructions? So many of these questions go unanswered, and will likely remain so… at least until Jesus returns in glory.

If someone said those words to you – in person or in writing – what would you think they were referring to? Would you think about the small group study you haven’t quite finished preparing for? Would you consider the intercession list you never quite get to the end of? Or would your mind be drawn to your frontline? Your workplace, colleagues, friends, tasks, to-do lists?

Throughout this book, we have seen Paul’s desire to convey the truth that all things are under the Lordship of Christ, so it’s possible that Archippus’ ‘ministry’ is not actually a church-based one. He could have just likely received a more ‘secular’ or practical ministry in the Lord. Maybe he was an accountant? Maybe he was a lawyer? Maybe he was just a really good neighbour? We do not know.

In the places you live, work, and play, what ministry has the Lord given you? Pray for the strength and perseverance to complete it.

Alianore Smith

Associate Speaker, LICC

Church & Theology Executive, International Justice Mission

Comments

  1. Following a long conversation with an old friend who has just been diagnosed with a form of blood cancer my husband and I were reflecting upon our own circumstances.
    Which compared to many of our friends and relatives is very comfortable.
    We are both in good health, retired and are financially secure.
    We have recently moved to North Yorkshire and found a church where we’ve made some good friends and joined in with the church community on various committees and groups. We’ve been helping out at community activities and at the Christmas and Spring fairs, etc.
    This led me to question my ministry and ask myself the question is it complete?
    My often moan is no one phones me to ask how I am, but actually I am fine in comparison to a lot of my peers so maybe that is my ministry. To keep on checking on them all…for me to keep in touch for me to be the one doing the ringing round, writing and visiting. Offering my time and home for respite and hospitality.
    Can it be that simple?

    By Lin Brown  -  5 Jun 2023
  2. Amazing message and so appropriate. Great challenge and thought provoking.
    Thank you

    By Sabine Burningham  -  6 Jun 2023
  3. Thank you Alianore. You certainly write very well and encouragingly. You raise a good point and one which should continually be on our minds, especially for us older people!
    Many blessings and may God use your ministry for many.
    Mark

    By Mark Nelson  -  8 Jun 2023

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