“Servant” in our English New Testament usually represents the Greek doulos (bondslave). Sometimes it means diakonos (deacon or minister); this is strictly accurate, for doulos and diakonos are synonyms. Both words denote a man who is not at his own disposal, but is his master’s purchased property. Bought to serve his master’s needs, to be at his beck and call every moment, the slave’s sole business is to do as he is told. Christian service therefore means, first and foremost, living out a slave relationship to one’s Savior (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
What work does Christ set his servants to do? The way that they serve him, he tells them, is by becoming the slaves of their fellow-servants and being willing to do literally anything, however costly, irksome, or undignified, in order to help them. This is what love means, as he himself showed at the Last supper when he played the slave’s part and washed the disciples’ feet.
When the New Testament speaks of ministering to the saints, it means not primarily preaching to them but devoting time, trouble, and substance to giving them all the practical help possible. The essence of Christian service is loyalty to the king expressing itself in care for his servants (Matt. 25: 31-46). (James Packer)
Jesus came to serve (Mt. 20:25-28, Jn. 13:12-17). Specifically, we are called to serve God, Jesus Christ, and others (Gal. 5:13). The early Christians called themselves servants. When the Apostles therefore described themselves as a “servant of Jesus Christ,” they were referring to themselves as His bondservants (Rom. 1:1; Ph. 1:1; Col. 4:12; Tit. 1:1; Jas. 1:1; 2Pet. 1:1; Jude 1:1). Christ has purchased us from the slave market with His own blood, and has set us free to serve Him forever (Ro 6:16-20; 1Co 16:24; Ga 4:7).
I. What does it take to be a servant?
A. Being a servant requires obedience (Eph. 6:5)
B. It requires faithfulness (Col. 3:22)
C. It requires humility (1Cor. 15:9-10, Eph. 3:8; 1Tim. 1:15).
D. It requires loyalty (Rom. 13:1).
II. Servants and their role:
A. Servants who are Messengers
1. Tychicus – … a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things (Eph. 6:1). 2 Timothy 4:12 And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. He was the bearer of the letter to Asia which we call ‘Ephesians’ (Eph. 6:21 ), and of Colossians (Col 4:7 ). The word “sent” seems to indicate that he was Paul’s messenger. Titus 3:12 supports this also. As a messenger, he is willing to go anywhere Paul will ask him to go without any half-heartedness.
2. Onesimus – a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here (Col. 4:9). Onesimus was the runaway slave of Philemon who was converted under the ministry of Paul. He too was a messenger.
Because of Tychicus and Onesimus, Paul’s teachings, exhortations, and admonitions to churches spread farther. These two may not fully know how much they have contributed to Christianity and maybe lots of Christians too, because their name are not so popular. However, being popular is nothing. When you do service to the Lord, the most important is He knows it, and that’s all that matters because He is the one that is going to reward you.
B. Servants who are comforters
1. Aristarchus – The name of one of St. Paul’s companions in travel. He was ‘a Macedonian of Thessalonica’ (Ac 19:29; 27:2), and a convert from Judaism (Col 4:10 f.). From Troas, Aristarchus accompanied St. Paul on his departure for Jerusalem at the close of the third missionary journey (Ac 20:4); he also embarked with the Apostle on his voyage to Rome (Ac 27:2). In Col 4:10 he is called St. Paul’s ‘fellow-prisoner’ (cf. Phm 1:23, where Epaphras, not Aristarchus, is styled ‘my fellow-prisoner in Christ Jesus’). The expression probably refers not to a spiritual captivity, but either to a short imprisonment arising out of the turmoil described in Ac 19:29, or to a voluntary sharing of the Apostle’s captivity by Aristarchus and Epaphras.
2. Mark – also called Marcus, he was a nephew of Barnabas. He was with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey but turned back (Acts 13:1-13), and become the cause of split between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:36-41). Later he became reconciled to St. Paul, and was his ‘fellow-worker’ and a ‘comfort’ to him (Col. 4:11; Phm. 1:24), and useful to him ‘for ministering’ (2Tim. 4:11).
3. Justus – A Jew named Jesus or Joshua who was with St. Paul in his first Roman imprisonment (Col. 4:11). He also was a comforter for Paul.
These three comforted Paul in his trials. Because of them Paul was able to continue his work while awaiting trial before Caesar.
C. The Servant who prayed (Col. 1:7-9)
1. Epaphras – Mentioned by St. Paul in Col. 1:7; 4:12; Phm 1:23; and described by him as his ‘fellow-servant,’ and also as a ‘servant’ and ‘faithful minister’ of Christ. He was a native or inhabitant of Colossæ (Col 4:12), and as St. Paul’s representative (Col 1:7) founded the Church there (Col 1:7). The fact of his prayerful zeal for Laodicea and Hierapolis suggests his having brought the faith to these cities also (Col 4:13).
a. He prayed continuously – “do not cease to pray”
b. He prayed for them personally – “pray for you”
c. He prayed with purpose – “that you might walk worthy of the Lord…”
To be a blessing to others, sometimes you don’t have to be physically present with them. You can pray for others who are living on the far side or on distant places. Paul often asked or requests the prayers of others (2 Thess. 3:1-2). You too can ask the prayers of your brothers and sisters in Christ in the church.
Serving the Lord is an honour and a privilege no matter how small of humble it looks to other people. The spread of Christianity was not accomplished by the efforts of the Apostles and Paul alone. These people whom we have just talked about made a great contribution and impact to the world more than they have expected or imagined. Are you willing to serve the Lord Jesus Christ? Serve Him now and earn rewards beyond your wildest dream.