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Hierapolis, from the Greek words meaning sacred city (see also Polis), was a city in Phrygia in Asia Minor (known today as Turkey). At the time that the apostle Paul was again being imprisoned by the Romans (the pagan Romans didn't care about Paul's religion; they viewed him as a political threat because of the Deliverer and King that Paul said was coming - see The Coming World Dictator), the Christians at Hierapolis were being served by a very hard-working associate of Paul, a man named Epaphras, who in Paul's letter to the Colossians was identified as the servant (Minister means servant) of the churches at Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis i.e. "he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis" (see below).

"For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis"

Mention of "slaves" among Christians is shocking and unsettling to some, however the word actually means bond servant e.g. where the RSV has "Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly" (below), the KJV has "give unto your servants that which is just and equal." Although the original Greek word is very close to the definition of the English word slave, it did not have the same implications that it does today. It's also highly ironic that it was Paul who was being held in chains (i.e. by the Romans) and that Paul's use of the term "Christian" meant slave (see the Fact Finder question below).


"Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving; and pray for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison, that I may make it clear, as I ought to speak [see also Paul's Ministry]. Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every one." (Colossians 4:1-6 RSV)

Although Paul's many associates are not as popularly known as Paul, it's not because Paul didn't give credit where credit was due, as made plain in these verses where he identifies many of them by name for the service to God that they had been doing.

"Tychicus will tell you all about my affairs; he is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, and with him Onesimus, the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of yourselves. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here."

"Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas, concerning whom you have received instructions - if he comes to you, receive him, and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me."

"Epaphras, who is one of yourselves, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always remembering you earnestly in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis."

"Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you."

"Give my greetings to the brethren at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house" [see Houses Of The Holy]

"And when this letter [see Epistles] has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you read also the letter from Laodicea."

"And say to Archippus, "See that you fulfil the ministry which you have received in the Lord."

"I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my Fetters. Grace be with you." (Colossians 4:7-18 RSV)

Fact Finder: How are all Christians "slaves" according to the literal definition of the word "Christian"?
See Christianos

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