Pass It On
Read Colossians 4:14-16 (ESV)
Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea.
What are some practical ways that you can share the Word of God with those around you? Can your home be used as a place to share God’s Word with others?
In our information age, it is difficult for us to fathom that once upon a time, you couldn’t just pick up your Bible and read it. If you didn’t have a copy, you couldn’t pick one up at your local store or have one delivered to your house in less than a week. We forget that we couldn’t listen to it on our phones or Google a specific verse whenever we wanted. And no, there was no Back to the Bible app or podcast to get great Bible teaching and all of your tough questions answered!
We also experience some culture shock when we remember that church buildings were not the norm at this time. Instead of getting up on Sunday and driving to church, believers met in houses. The book of Acts cites the practice of meeting in people’s homes. Acts 5:42 says: “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
In today’s verses, Paul is still writing his closing remarks to the Colossian church. He charged them with reading this letter among themselves and then passing it on. He also mentioned a letter from Laodicea that they were to read together. This gives us insight into how the church was taught by Paul and the apostles even when they were not present in a gathering. The early church was taught by the authority of apostles and their circulated letters played a large role in establishing sound doctrine in the early churches that often met in homes like those of Nympha.
Unfortunately, we don’t know anything else about Nympha. Some versions translate the name as “Nymphas” which would indicate that Paul was actually talking about a man, not a woman. Regardless, we do know that Nympha was willing to serve the early church by being a generous host.
In his closing remarks, Paul also mentioned two men—Luke and Demas. This is the same Luke that was privileged to write the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. Luke was the perfect man for this job because as Paul’s personal physician, he worked closely with Paul and traveled with Paul on his missionary trips which gives weight to the trustworthiness of his accounts. His attention to detail and his desire for order and accuracy are evident throughout his writings. In Luke 1:1-4, Luke confirmed that he followed these events closely and that he was recording and organizing eyewitness testimonies that were being taught orally at the time so that the history and teachings would be preserved accurately. Thanks to men like Luke, today we are able to simply open up our Bibles to be taught sound doctrine.
We don’t know as much about Demas. He is listed in Paul’s personal letter to Philemon as well in verse 24 as Paul’s “fellow laborer.” But the only other place in Scripture that he is mentioned is in 2 Timothy 4:10 which unfortunately recounts the desertion of Demas: “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.” Sadly, Demas chose the things of the world over Christ.
Friends, the culture of church may be different today in many ways but there is much that we can take away from today’s passage. Paul impressed upon the Colossians, and all of the other churches who heard the letter read aloud, the importance of reading Scripture out loud together. Scripture was not meant to be kept to ourselves. So today, I encourage you to pass it on. Share the Word of God with the people around you.
Lord, thank You for the Bible. Thank you for the men of the early church who faithfully recorded historical narratives and the apostles’ teachings so that even today we can read Scripture out loud and share it with others. Show me who I should pass Your Word to today, Lord. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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