Study 10 ARCHIPPUS: FULFILLING OUR MINISTRY
(Scripture Portion: 2 Timothy 2: 1-15)
This concluding study in our series is based upon one of Paul’s requests at the end of his Letter to the Colossians:-
“Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the
work you have received in the Lord.’ ” (Colossians 4:17)
It almost seems as if this personal note was added as a postscript at the end of his letter. Let us look at the four very important thoughts contained in this one verse - verse 17:-
1. THE REQUEST THAT PAUL MAKES
It is very simple indeed: “Say something to Archippus!” Who was he? He is only mentioned here and in Paul’s letter to Philemon. It is very likely that he was the son of Philemon, in which case he lived in a fine Christian home in Colosse; and he was a minister, a leader, a pastor having the charge of an assembly of believers. Was he the pastor of the church at nearby Laodicea - Colossians 4:16? In Philemon 2 he is spoken of as Paul’s “fellow-worker”. Thus, we see that Archippus was a man of special privilege: son of Christian parents, member of a Christian household, in special service for the Lord - and it was to this man that Paul felt compelled to send a special message, indeed, a word of warning. “Say something to… ” this man of special privilege. Has the Lord something to say to those of us who are pastors, evangelists, teachers, Christian workers?
2. THE PRIVILEGE THAT PAUL HIGHLIGHTS
Archippus was privileged for each of the reasons mentioned above, but there was one special reason. Paul focused on this when he exhorted Archippus to “complete the work you have received in the Lord.” What a solemn and wonderful thing it was for Archippus, for he had received a ministry in the Lord! But every Christian has received a special ministry in the Lord - look up 1 Corinthians 12:7, and compare Ephesians 4:7. The Lord has given a special task to every child of His. What is the ministry you have received in the Lord? - not the ministry that you have assumed or undertaken just because it appeals to you, but the ministry you have received in the Lord, your God-appointed, God-given task? Name it - or perhaps you have not discovered what it is?
- Maybe yours is the task of bringing up your own children “in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). What a privileged ministry yours is!
- Maybe yours is the task of bringing up or caring for someone else’s children. This indeed is an honour which offers great scope for really fruitful service.
- Maybe yours is the task of serving your local church as an office-bearer: deacon, treasurer, secretary, teacher, steward, organist. You are a privileged person.
- Maybe yours is the task of engaging in all kinds of loving ministries behind the scenes. You may be far too timid to appear in public, but what a privilege you have to “do your bit” behind the scenes!
- Maybe yours is the task of bringing encouragement to those who are in the forefront of the battle. Mr. Encourager - is that your name?
- Maybe yours is the task of exercising a ministry of correction. Yes, you are a privileged person, but what grace, tenderness, wisdom and care you need!
- Maybe yours is the task of praying for the Lord’s work and workers. You say, “There’s not much I can do - only pray!” Is that all?
You see, as members of His Body we all have a function to fulfil, a job to do - read 1 Corinthians 12:14-17 and Romans 12:3-8 carefully and thankfully.
3. THE FAITHFULNESS THAT PAUL DEMANDS
“Archippus …the work you have received in the Lord …complete it!” There is a beautiful illustration of its meaning in John 2:7. So Paul exhorted Archippus to fill his service for the Lord up to the brim - fully. This is what God requires of all His servants - unhesitating, unquestioning and unconditional obedience, plus diligence and whole-heartedness. See what the Lord Jesus was able to say - John 17:4, and compare Paul’s own words - 2 Timothy 4:7. Towards the end of his life Paul could say that he had fulfilled the purpose that God had for his life - and he urged Archippus to see to it that he could say the same. Had Archippus been unfaithful? Dr Ironside says that it seems likely that he “had a tendency, not uncommon among some young preachers, to settle down comfortably and take things easily.” Was this Archippus’ failing? Is it ours? Are we lazy, careless, undisciplined? Perhaps the word we should use is lukewarm. Are we lukewarm? Why use this word? Because it would most aptly fit the case if it is true that Archippus was pastor of the church at Laodicea - look up Revelation 3:14-22. There is no doubt about the fact that every Archippus, every preacher, pastor and leader is beset by special temptations, and for this reason Paul gives a warning to Archippus.
4. THE WARNING THAT PAUL GIVES
“See to it… ”! Be watchful, on the alert! Give attention to this divine task. Compare these words with what Paul says to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:5b, “… do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry“. May God give us the grace to be careful and always diligent to complete the work we have received from the Lord.