Theresa Doyle-Nelson enjoys researching and writing about holy people from the Bible. She has written for a variety of Catholic resources and is the author of Saints in Scripture. Theresa and her husband Chad have been married for over 30 years, and although their nest is now empty, their three adult sons have growing families — providing enjoyable opportunities for growing gatherings and grandchildren graces! Theresa and Chad are parishioners at the beautiful and historic St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Bandera, Texas. You can find Theresa’s blog, “The Hill Country Hermit” at TheresaDoyle-Nelson.blogspot.com.
Epaphras sends you greetings; he is one of you, a slave of Christ [Jesus], always striving for you in his prayers so that you may be perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. For I can testify that he works very hard for you and for those in Laodicea and those in Hierapolis. ―Colossians 4:12–13
Although St. Epaphras (EP-a-fras) is only mentioned three times within the New Testament, those three references give clear evidence that he offered great assistance to Paul and contributed much to the establishment of the early Church. It is believed that Epaphras was originally from Colossae and that he played important roles in founding the Churches of Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis―three ancient cities that were clustered together in the Lycus Valley in Asia Minor.
In Paul’s letters to the Colossians and Philemon, he conveyed greetings from Epaphras. Both of these Epistles were written while Paul was in prison (possibly in Rome, Ephesus or Caesarea). Clearly, Epaphras was away from Colossae and with Paul, wherever he was, when these particular letters were written. Some assert that Epaphras was visiting Paul to report news to him about the Churches of Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis and then perhaps became imprisoned himself.
Because Epaphras is so closely linked with Colossae and Laodicea, one can consider some strong possibilities. It becomes very likely that he knew the Bible saints Philemon and Apphia (Nov. 22), Archippus (March 20), and their slave Onesimus (Feb. 15)―all from Colossae. It is very plausible that he attended services at Philemon and Apphia’s house church. It is also highly reasonable that Epaphras was with Paul when Onesimus, who found Paul in prison while running away from his masters and embraced Christianity. Perhaps Epaphras helped to favorably impact Onesimus’s decision to become a Christian. It is conceivable that Epaphras was friends with another biblical Christian, Nympha, who let her house be used as a church in Laodicea.
4 Days of Bible Journaling with St. Epaphras
The memorial of St. Epaphras is July 19. Due to his concern and care for an imprisoned Paul, those in prison might feel a connection and a bit of hope through St. Epaphras. Consider getting to know this rather obscure saint a little better by spending four days Bible journaling with St. Epaphras. Maybe read a few surrounding verses for a clearer understanding, and ask St. Epaphras to pray for any special intentions during your four day devotional.
- Day 1) Colossians 1:7–8
- Day 2) Colossians 4:12–13
- Day 3) Colossians 4:15
- Day 4) Philemon 23