Connections and “Limitations”

Word WalkThe regional impact of ancient Colossae had been diminished due to the diversion of the local trade route northwest to the cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis.  An assembly of believers had been established in Colossae, started by Epaphras; they were meeting in the home of Philemon.  An eclectic fusion of legalism, mysticism, and philosophical speculation was threatening this church.  As a result, Epaphras thought it expedient to make the long 600 mile journey to Rome to get advice from Paul, his imprisoned mentor.  Upon reaching Rome, Epaphras was also imprisoned concerning the faith.

Simultaneously, Onesimus, a slave belonging to Philemon, had escaped and absconded with a substantial sum of his master’s money.  He also made his way to Rome, but his plan was to assimilate into the huge slave population there.  Onesimus happened to be within the periphery of Paul as he was proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God while chained to a Roman soldier.  He heard and believed the message of Christ, and as he matured, he ministered to Paul.

With Epaphras detained, Tychicus, a travelling companion of Paul, and Onesimus were chosen to return to Colossae with two letters.  Tychicus was also to deliver a third letter to Ephesus.  One of the letters to the assembly at Colossae (Colossians) was an eloquent apologetic concerning the cosmic Christ who has supremacy in all things.  The other letter (Philemon) was a finely crafted appeal for Philemon to forgive Onesimus as he had been forgiven by Christ; it contained an additional appeal that Philemon accept Onesimus as a brother instead of a slave.

The life of every believer is pregnant with sovereignly crafted connections; we sometimes see them as “limitations.”  And the kingdom of God advances.