ep'-a-fras (Epaphras): A contracted form of Epaphroditus. He must not, however, be confounded with the messenger of the Philippian community. He was with Paul during a part of his 1st Roman imprisonment, joining in Paul's greetings to Philemon (Phm 1:23). Epaphras was the missionary by whose instrumentality the Colossians had been converted to Christianity (Col 1:7), and probably the other churches of the Lycus had been founded by him. In sending his salutation to the Colossians Paul testified, "He hath much labor for you, and for them in Laodicea, and for them in Hierapolis" (Col 4:13). Epaphras had brought to Paul good news of the progress of the gospel, of their "faith in Christ Jesus" and of their love toward all the saints (Col 1:4). Paul's regard for him is shown by his designating him "our beloved fellow-servant," "a faithful minister of Christ" (Col 1:7), and "a bondservant of Christ Jesus" (Col 4:12 margin) . The last designation Paul uses several times of himself, but only once of another besides Epaphras (Php 1:1).
S. F. Hunter