A beautiful, pastoral sign-off by Paul. Note that other churches will have read this letter of Paul to the church at Colossae and that the Colossians will have read his letter to the church at Laodicea (remember that it is commonly thought that the letter to the Ephesians was originally the letter to the Laodiceans!). Let's look at these individuals' names, because they are children beloved by God-people that may well be in eternity with us, but also because some have an interesting Biblical thread. Luke, mentioned in v.14, the beloved doctor, is the writer of the eponymous Gospel and the book of Acts and accompanied Paul on some of his missionary journeys. Onesimus was the runaway slave who was the subject of Paul's letter to Philemon: he had become a faithful and beloved brother. Aristachus was from Thessalonica who was with Paul when the people of Ephesus rioted and was captured by the mob. He accompanied Paul on his boat voyage to Rome, possibly enrolling himself as Paul's slave so that he could make the journey with him. Now he is Paul's fellow prisoner. Then we read of Mark, the writer of the second Gospel. Now, he and Paul had a troubled start: Paul had taken Mark with him as a secretary when he and Barnabas had gone on their first missionary journey. However, when things got tough, Mark left the group and returned home. On their second missionary journey, Barnabas ('son of encouragement') wanted to take Mark again, but Paul refused, so he and Barnabas parted company. We read here that Mark has been accepted back by Paul, useful to him again. Then there is Demas. He is mentioned at the end of Paul's letter to Philemon, but the last mention of him is in the second letter of Paul to his beloved Timothy. There we are told that Demas has forsaken Paul, because he is in love with the world (2 Timothy 4 v 10). All of those individuals who lived and breathed just like us are encouragements or challenges to us. For me, the story of Aristachus is the most striking: would I ever be devoted so much to someone that I would choose to be their slave in order to be in prison with them?! I'm sure that we all have a person in that list that has struck a chord with us. Reflect and learn and grow! Tomorrow we begin our studies in James!
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