Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.’
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.
Associate Speaker, LICC
Church & Theology Executive, International Justice Mission