Common Cause

Bible Reading: Colossians 4:7-18

“But we in it shall be remembered; We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.” Shakespeare’s Henry V

In the hallway above where I’m now writing hangs a quilt that was a gift to Laura and me on our first-year anniversary of pastoring at Lewis and Clark Bible Church.  Each square of the quilt bears the names of a family that attended the time.  Though some have departed to be with Jesus, I’ve fond memories of them all.  Though diverse in age and backgrounds, God worked to knit us all together in love.  We shared a common relationship with Jesus, a common indwelling of the Spirit, and a common cause in knowing Jesus and making Him known.  Each person was uniquely gifted to serve in their own particular way in the building up of the body.  Paul wrote as one of a band of brothers, for he realized that we believers are all part of a work that is bigger than any one of us.  A work that demands of us we be of “one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).

His band of brothers included Tychicus, the trusted postman, who was a companion of Paul for over 10 years.  Paul entrusted him with the task of making important deliveries (Acts 20:3, 24:17; Colossians 4:7-8; Ephesians 6:21).  His faithfulness in delivering the parchments earned him a forever mention in the book to which they were destined.   

Onesimus was the slave set free though the gospel to serve Jesus.  He was a native of Colossae and trusted in Jesus through the ministry of Paul (Philemon 10).  He proved himself useful to Paul, but Paul sent him back to Philemon and encouraged him to receive Onesimus not as a slave, but as a brother.  According to church tradition, Onesimus ultimately suffered martyrdom under Domitian.

Aristarchus, a native of Thessalonica (Acts 27:2), was together with Paul as a fellow prisoner.  In fact, he accompanied Paul through much ministry.  He was with him on his 3rd missionary journey, and on the voyage to Rome (Acts 19:29, 20:4, 27:2).  According to church tradition, he suffered martyrdom at the hands of Nero.

Mark was son of a Mary of Jerusalem (Acts 12:12) and a cousin of Barnabas (Col. 4:10).  He wrote the gospel of Mark.  Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas on the 1st missionary journey (Acts 12:25, 13:4), but deserted them (Acts 13:13).  As a result, Paul later refused to take Mark along on the 2nd missionary journey (Acts 15:36-39). Though he had previously deserted Paul, he was there with Paul in his 1st Roman imprisonment (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24), for he had proved himself useful to Paul (2 Timothy 4:11).  According to church tradition, he was sent by Peter on a mission to Egypt and later suffered martyrdom at the hands of Nero.  He had failed Jesus once, but later proved himself useful and served well and was even privileged to write his gospel account.

Jesus called Justus is not otherwise spoken of in the New Testament.  He was a Jewish believer, together with Aristarchus and Mark, reminding us that although most of Paul’s brethren (his fellow Jews; Romans 10:1) were antagonistic to him and his cause, there were these who joined with Paul—despite the cost—and brought much encouragement to him.

Epaphras was the hometown hero.  Having been saved through Paul’s ministry, he returned home and shared the gospel in his hometown (Colossians 1:7).  Paul had strong words of commendation for Epaphras, for he was a man who labored in prayer and had a deep concern for the church.  According to church tradition, he suffered martyrdom in Colossae.

Luke, the beloved physician, was the writer of the 3rd gospel.  He joined with Paul at Troas and sailed with him to Macedonia (Acts 16:10-11; AD 50).  He also accompanied Paul on his trip to Jerusalem (Acts 20:6-21:18) and the trip to Rome (Acts 27:1).  Luke remained faithful amongst the defection of others in Paul’s 2ndRoman imprisonment (2 Timothy 4:11).  Church tradition holds that he died as a martyr, but it is not known where.

Something is said of every other companion of Paul, but nothing else is said here about Demas—no commendation, no recommendation to the church, no mention of his character or efforts.  The book of Colossians was written in AD 62.  The book of second Timothy was written during Paul’s 2nd imprisonment (Fall AD 67).  Sometime between the writing of the two books, Demas deserted Paul (2 Timothy 4:10).  He reminds us of the danger associated with love for this world and need to guard our hearts (1 John 2:15-17; 2 Timothy 1:14).

They were a diverse group, a band of brothers, sold out to the cause of making the gospel known.  And they suffered, and even died, for that cause.  They suffered and died, and through their sacrifice, the gospel message spread.  And spread.  Until one day it came to you.  That you might be enjoined to your own band of brothers and sisters, who are likewise bound together to a common cause.


God of grace and God of glory,
on your people pour your pow’r;
crown your ancient Church’s story,
bring its bud to glorious flow’r.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
for the facing of this hour,
for the facing of this hour.

Lo, the hosts of evil round us
scorn the Christ, assail his ways.
From the fears that long have bound us
free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
for the living of these days,
for the living of these days.

Cure your children’s warring madness;
bend our pride to your control;
shame our wanton, selfish gladness,
rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
lest we miss your kingdom’s goal,
lest we miss your kingdom’s goal.

Save us from weak resignation
to the evils we deplore;
let the gift of your salvation
be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
serving you whom we adore,
serving you whom we adore.

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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