Colossians 4:17




1. This man is mentioned twice in the New Testament: Col. 4:17 and Philemon 1:2.

2. Philemon 1:1-2 – Philemon was another book written by Paul at the same time as Colossians and delivered at the same time by Tychicus.

a. Philemon was a wealthy Christian man from Colossae.
• Paul writes to this man, who was a slave owner, to receive back as a brother in Christ a runaway slave named Onesimus.
• As a side note, Paul mentions here that the church in Colossae met in his house… or a portion of the church.

b. The most natural reading of verses 1-2 would lead one to believe that Paul is addressing a “household.”
• Philemon… (head of the household)
• Apphia… (presumably his wife)
• Archippus… (Presumably his son)
• And the church that meets in his house…

c. It SOUNDS like Archippus might be the son of Philemon and Apphia… but not certain.

d. It SOUNDS like Paul is writing to a FAMILY… who own a large home… where the assembly meets.

e. Archippus is also called a fellowsoldier with Paul.

3. We just have a few interesting tid bits of information…

a. It is possible to assemble these pieces in various ways… so we CANNOT say with absolute certainty (1) exactly what his ministry was; (2) where he ministered; (3) what his relation to Philemon was.

4. Possibility:

a. He was the son of Philemon and Apphia;

b. He was also functioning as the pastor of the church that met in their home.

c. He may have been the pastor to replace Epaphras—who had been the minister at Colossae… (Col.1:7-8)

d. But at the time of this writing, is in Rome with Paul.

e. Epaphras is sending greeting TO Colossae along with Paul (Col. 4:12).

f. Perhaps Epaphras was imprisoned with Paul and Archippus took his place as minister to the church… either temporarily or permanently.

g. Others think he was the pastor/overseer at the church of Laodicea.


1. Archippus received a ministry from the Lord.

2. Ministry defined: διακονίαn

a. This is the Greek word from which we get our English word “deacon.”

b. However, the term does not always refer to the official office of a deacon in a local church.

e. Consider its broader usage in the following:
• I Tim.1:12 – “putting me into the ministry”
• II Tim.4:11 – Mark is profitable to me for the ministry.
• Romans 11:13 – used to describe Paul’s apostolic office.
• Acts 12:25 – Saul and Barnabus fulfilled their ministry
• Acts 20:24 – Paul’s ministry of preaching the gospel
• I Cor.12:5 – differences of administrations (diakonia)
• Eph.4:12 – for the work of the ministry…

3. It seems quite likely that the term “ministry” used of Archippus was used in this broad sense… not the narrower sense of the office of a church deacon.

a. II Tim. 4:5 – make full proof of thy ministry.
• This passage is the MOST similar to that of Col. 4:17… in wording and meaning. (fulfilling your ministry)
• Here the ministry of Timothy was that of a pastor… in Ephesus.

b. For that reason, many believe that Archippus was functioning as pastor/overseer of the church that met in the home of Philemon… in the absence of Ephaphras.

4. His ministry was IN the Lord.

a. The ministry Archippus received was IN the Lord.

b. Paul relates his ministry to his POSITION in Christ.

c. IN Christ speaks of:
• The believer’s Spirit baptism into the Body of Christ.
• The believer’s union with Christ in his death and resurrection…
• The believer is sanctified in Christ Jesus (I Cor. 1:2)
• The believer’s position with Christ in the heavenlies
• The heavenly sphere in which the believer in Christ lives and breathes… our LIFE is there. (Col. 3:3)
• It is that sphere where the law of the Spirit of LIFE is operative in the believer… (Rom. 8:2)
• It is the sphere of victory—where the Holy Spirit always causes us to triumph IN Christ (II Cor. 2:14)
• Any man in Christ is a new creature. (II Cor. 5:17)
• In Christ no earthly distinctions exist: neither Jew nor Gentile; bond nor free; male or female; all one.
• The believer possesses all spiritual blessings in Christ. (Eph. 1:3)
• The believer’s high calling of God is in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14)
• The believer’s position IN the Lord (in Christ) is not a minor issue.

d. Our position IN CHRIST (and our ministry in Christ) stands in contrast to our former position IN ADAM.
• In Adam speaks of the natural, earthly realm.
• And yes, it is possible to conduct ministry in that realm!
• It is possible to attempt to conduct ministry from within that sphere… from the earthly… worldly… natural realm.
• The difference is between one who is absorbed with his position in the Lord… in Christ… and conducting the Lord’s work from that perspective (heavenly, holy, spiritual, Spirit filled, power of the resurrection)… — OR — conducting the Lord’s work from the natural realm… as those in Adam… who do not understand spiritual things… and are left with ONLY the natural… the earthly…
• The Lord’s work can become quite successful and prosper when conducted from the natural realm… when judged from the earthly perspective.
• One is thus forced to use business practices to promote God’s work… and those practices WORK… though they may be entirely barren of the Spirit of LIFE in Christ Jesus… devoid of the power of the resurrection… and FULL of wisdom, works, and the will of the flesh.
• The flesh can do a LOT on its own—but it can do NOTHING of any eternal value.

e. The ministry Archippus received was IN the Lord.
• The ministry of Archippus did not consist of what he did for God in the natural realm… using his natural talents… but what GOD did in and through him…
• The end product of ministry in the Lord does not magnify the genius of man’s skill and efforts… but it magnifies Christ…
• I Cor. 12:18 – Ministry in the Lord especially related to the fact that he was in Christ’s Body… a member of that Body… and equipped by GOD to function in that Body.
»It is a supernatural work of Christ the Head manifesting His life, power, wisdom, grace, and will through Spirit filled members of His Body.
»The moment a person is saved in this age, he is immediately baptized by the Spirit INTO the Body of Christ. (I Cor. 12:13)
»Right from birth, (the new birth) the believer is placed into the Body as it hath pleased Him. A hand is made by God to be a hand… a foot a foot… an ear an ear… an elbow an elbow… etc.
»The spiritual gift or capacity to function in the Body is part of the new birth.
»Of course that gift needs to be developed, grow, mature, be instructed and improved upon…
»That comes through time, spiritual growth, practice, use, study, etc…
»It is part of the new creation in Christ. (II Cor. 5:17)

f. The ministry Archippus had was IN the Lord…
• From the moment of his new birth, God had His hand on this man… to function in the Body as a pastor/elder/shepherd.
• Of course he had to grow, learn, and mature in order to FUNCTION… but God created him for that purpose in the Lord… in the Body.
• It was his calling… it was God’s design for his life… it was God’s work in him…

g. Eph. 2:10 – we are created IN CHRIST unto good works which God had ordained that we should walk in them.
• God called Archippus to salvation… and he called him to function in the Body… with a specific ministry…
• God had a ministry for Archippus… and God had good works all planned out for him to walk in.
• And as long as Archippus was yielded to the Holy Spirit… the law of the Spirit of LIFE in Christ Jesus would be operative in and through him… filled with the Spirit… and he WOULD walk in those God ordained works… and thus fulfill his ministry…

h. And by the way—the same principle holds true for every one of us in Christ.
• There are DIFFERENCES of administrations (diakonia)… but the same Spirit operating in us in the Body of Christ.
• As we yield to the Holy Spirit… the Spirit will manifest the LIFE of Christ in us and through us…
• We will be functioning in the Body as God designed… so that Christ, the Head, might accomplish HIS will in and through us.
• The key is to be yielded to the Spirit… abiding in Christ in communion with Him… surrendered to God… like putty in His hand… available… clean…
• When that is the case, EVERY member will FUNCTION as God created him to function in the Body.
• Every member will thus fulfill his own unique, God given ministry… and as a result, Christ will be manifested clearly through the Body… unto the glory of God.

5. Ministry IN the Lord—(especially a pastor) is not like any job in the world.

a. It is by God’s appointment… God’s design… God’s choice…
• Ministry is not something WE choose on our own… or get a degree and become…
• A degree from Bible college is no substitute for the call of God. 10 degrees won’t equip a man for service if he hasn’t been called of the Lord.
• He may be talented, intelligent, skillful in all kinds of techniques, but spiritually he will produce nothing but wood, hay, and stubble.

b. Ministry in the Lord is not a career but a calling.
• God does not always call those whom we deem to be most likely from man’s perspective.
• God called fishermen, a Pharisee, a shepherd, tax collectors, and a herdsman… to serve Him in various ministries.
• Their backgrounds and training differed, but they shared one thing in common: God called them to their ministry.

c. For the Christian, ministry is received as part of the new creation… upon entrance into the Body as a member… with a God given, supernatural capacity to function in the Body of Christ.
• That capacity is given by God, directed by God, empowered by God, to draw attention to God.
• It was received as a grace gift… not something we can glory in.
• We RECEIVED it. We didn’t earn it or buy it.
• Salvation was designed by God in such a way that it does not give the flesh or SELF one ounce of glory…
• Ministry was also designed by God in such a way that it gives NO opportunity for self to glory.

d. I Cor. 4:7 – “and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”

e. Archippus received a ministry in the Lord. He had received a special grace gift… a capacity to serve God… and Paul writes to challenge him to TAKE HEED to that ministry.


1. Take heed = Blepo – take heed to; look out for danger; see to; watch carefully; pay attention to.

a. Often used as a “warning.” (Mark 13:5, 9, 23, 33)

2. Archippus—like every one of us—had received a grace gift—a capacity to serve in a ministry for the Lord.

a. But possessing a ministry or a grace gift—does not mean that God is pleased with what we DO with that ministry.

b. Such a gift is a valuable, precious tool to be used for God’s glory. Every gift is necessary and valuable to the Body.

c. Which gift we receive is up to God. What we DO with the gift we receive is up to us.

d. God GAVE Archippus a gift to function as a leader in the church—AND he is encouraged here to be CAREFUL about what he does with that gift!

e. Be careful with it! Take heed! Be watchful! Be mindful of the gift… don’t forget to use it… to develop it… and function as God intended!

3. Archippus is told to TAKE HEED to his ministry…

a. It may indicate that Paul felt there was a problem along those lines…

b. OR (which seems more likely) it may simply be a friendly reminder and warning that ANY minister needs from time to time.

4. This same type of warning was given to others as well.

a. II Tim. 1:6 – Paul sent to Timothy to stir him up concerning his ministry—perhaps because Timothy was prone to fear.

b. Paul may have seen Archippus to be in need of “stirring up” too—perhaps because he was prone to laziness… or being drawn away from his real ministry.

c. Acts 20:28 – leaders in ministry at Ephesus were warned to TAKE HEED to themselves first of all… and secondly to their ministry to the flock. FEED the flock!

d. II Tim. 4:1-5 – Take heed by preaching the word! (an exhortation from Paul)

e. I Tim. 4:16 – take heed to yourself and to the DOCTRINE… and save yourself and those who hear you!

5. Regardless of our gift and capacity to function in the Body, we ALL need this kind of challenge from time to time.

a. We all tend to grow weary in well doing.

b. We all tend to get lazy in the work of the Lord and need this reminder: be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord…

c. We all tend to get discouraged in the work of the Lord when things don’t go the way we had hoped.

d. We all tend to lose our zeal and enthusiasm over time and need to be stirred up—like embers cooling off and becoming covered with ashes… lukewarm!

e. In ministering to others, we all need to be reminded to take heed to ourselves!

f. And others might become so busy in taking heed to themselves that they need to be challenged to minister to others.

g. Perhaps some folks here today have slacked off in your service for the Lord… perhaps God has given you a gift and you have been hiding it under a bushel…

h. The result is that the body is losing out on that needed function… and you are losing out in the spiritual exercise and the reward you could have had!

i. We all HAVE a gift and thus a capacity to function in one ministry or another. Take heed to your ministry!


1. Defined:

a. Strong’s: Fill full… complete… full to the brim; make complete in every particular; to be permeated; carry into effect, bring to realization…

b. John 12:3 – when Mary took costly perfume and anointed the feet of Jesus the smell “filled” the house…

c. Related to the word for riches: supply abundantly with something, impart richly…

d. Acts 12:25 – Paul and Barnabus fulfilled their ministry.

e. Col. 2:10 – we are complete in Him.

2. Eph. 1:23 – used 2 times… the body of Christ is FULL of Christ… because He fills it with Himself….

a. He fills it with His life, love, grace, compassion, righteousness, holiness, the fruit of the Holy Spirit… Christlike character

b. He fills the Body, the church, AS WE yield to the Holy Spirit… and abide in Him.

c. As we do, EVERY function and God anointed ministry of the Body will be fulfilled.

d. God will accomplish His perfect will in the Body by FILLING each one of us… that we might FULFILL our God given ministry… and thus the Body is full of the fullness of Him who fills it! It is full of Christ!

e. Eph. 3:19 – We can only fulfill our ministry for Christ as we are filled with the fullness of God… God’s life and power operating in us to manifest the indwelling life of Christ.

f. That’s what men should see in the local church: Christ and Him alone!

g. When a visitor walks into a local church—a local manifestation of Christ—they be “convinced of all, he is judged of all: 25And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.” (I Cor. 14:24-25)

h. If we were all faithful in fulfilling our ministries in the local church… this WOULD occur… to the glory of God.

i. Hence, Paul challenged Archippus to FULFILL his ministry in the Lord… and that becomes a challenge to us all.

j. Nothing is more obnoxious than a minister that preaches himself… talks about himself… and thus fills the body with himself!

k. We are to preach CHRIST and HIM crucified—not ourselves!

l. The ministry, the message, the methodology, the manner, the emphasis is all on Christ… He is all in all.

m. Only THEN will God’s purpose for the ministry for the Body be fulfilled.

3. Archippus was challenged to fill his ministry full… pour his life into it.

a. Cf. — II Tim. 4:5, “make full proof of thy ministry.” “Give all diligence to follow it out fully.”

b. It would imply the need to be faithful… persevere in your ministry…

c. Not all ministers… not all pastor/teachers fulfill their duty as a minister.

d. Some are busy fulfilling duties their denomination requires… or trying to fulfill the expectations of the people… or to fulfill duties they have assumed or imagined to be part of the ministry… (soup kitchens; politics; social agencies; medical services; games, camps, clubs, etc…)

e. It is possible to be BUSY in trying to fulfill all these alleged duties… and at the same time to be negligent in carrying out one’s duties and responsibilities as recorded in the BIBLE!

f. ILLUSTRATION: Course in church administration… (Business Management 101)

g. We need to let the BIBLE define what ministry is.

h. Our ministry is not what we do for God, but what HE does through us. Our job is to be ready, available, willing, yielded, surrendered, a clean vessel He can use when, where, and how He sees fit…

4. The body does not lack for spiritual gifts… even Corinth was a gifted church! (I Cor. 1:7).

a. God has equipped each Body with all the gifts it needs to function.

b. The problem is not a lack of gifts, but a lack of AVAILABLE gifts.
· Some gifted members are living in sin.
· Some gifted members are too busy with the affairs of this life.
· Some gifted members are not faithful… not reliable.
· Some gifted members are not available…
· Some gifted members think it beneath them to be a servant (pride).
· Some gifted members think it above them to serve (false humility).
· Some gifted members are just stubborn… and self willed. NO!
· Some gifted members start off using their gifts and ministering to the edification of the body… but over time fizzle out and stop.

c. Fulfill: Present active subjunctive of plêroô, “that thou keep on filling it full.”
• It is a life-time job. It is NEVER finished.
• When God gave you a gift, He intends for you to use it until He takes you home!
• Jesus said, “I have finished the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:4)
• Paul said, “I have finished my course; I have kept the faith.”
• That should be our goal too.
• The ministry is a stewardship for which the minister will be held responsible and called into account…
• So, TAKE HEED to your ministry!


1. Paul was exhorting this minister to be faithful.

a. But note that he uses a very indirect approach.

b. He tells the Colossians (recipients of the letter) to deliver this message to Archippus.

c. He wanted the believers in the assembly to challenge and encourage their minister to keep on ministering.

2. Archippus was evidently a minister and had authority in the local church.

a. However, that did not give him the right to do as he pleased.

b. He was still UNDER the authority of God’s Word. Paul reminds him of his God given responsibilities.

c. Ministers are to be held accountable to the ministry. (qualifications)

d. Members of the body should exhort one another DAILY to be faithful… including the leaders.
· In doing so, each member is thus doubly reminded to fulfill our OWN ministries in the local church!
· Mote and the beam…

e. This was probably a great encouragement to this man: to receive a word of exhortation from Spirit filled members of the body… who had received this message from the apostle Paul himself!

f. One word can mean a lot to a person ministering for Christ.
• A fearful Timothy can be emboldened…
• A discouraged Archippus can be challenged…

Let’s all learn from this passage:
· Take heed to our OWN ministries…
· Encourage others in their ministries…
· Be sure that our heavenly position in Christ is the basis for our ministry down here on earth…
· Abiding in our Risen, glorified Savior… and experiencing HIS resurrection power operating in and through us as we minister in the local church—that we be strong in the LORD and in the power of HIS might…
· Ministering in Christ… not in Adam… with Adam’s earthly perspective—natural talents and human wisdom…
· But be filled with the fullness of God and thus fulfill your ministry… and cause this body to be full of Him…
· And to manifest Christ as we ought…
· And let’s exhort one another daily lest any of us become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin!
· Oh yes, WE need to take heed to our ministries!


· Apart from the new birth, any service you do for God is considered “dead works.” None will save.
· (Have not we done many wonderful works?)
· BELIEVE and be saved today!

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