"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. " (Colossians 1:1-2)Paul writes to the church at Colossae; a church he had never personally visited. However, his friend and partner, Epaphras, had. Epaphras was not only a friend of Paul's, but also a partner in his apostolic endeavors. We see him mentioned here in Galatians, "Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf," (Colossians 1:7) and also later in Paul's letter to Philemon, where Paul writes, "Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you." (Philemon 23-24) Epaphras means "Devoted to Aphrodite" but Epaphras had become devoted to Jesus Christ and His church.
Paul was not a lone ranger, he operated as part of a larger team. He understood that the work was too important and too vast for him to do it alone. He needed other people both to help him and for him to help. It is tempting to form ministries around our own giftings; highlighting our strengths, abilities, and calling. However, it is more productive to develop teams with varying giftings, strengths, callings, and abilities. When we learn to work as teams, we extend the Kingdom of God in ways we could never do by ourselves.
Paul writes in his name and in the name of Timothy whom he calls "brother." This is significant, Notice that Paul does not write, "and Timothy my son and your bother", thus placing himself above them, but simply "timothy our brother." In calling Timothy "our brother" he is placing himself on the same level as the believers in Colossae. If Timothy was Paul's brother, and Timothy was a brother to those in Colossae, then Paul was also a brother to them in Christ.
One of the keys to ministry is to see others as brothers and sisters in Christ. For some, the entry into ministry is an entry into an elevated class and a distinction from those they serve. Class distinctions such as clergy and laity, leader and follower, spiritual and carnal are not helpful when it comes to the administration of the Kingdom of Christ. Jesus never intended for there to be class distinctions between us for, as He said, "you are all brothers." (Matthew 23:8)
It is also interesting to note that Paul writes to the "saints" at Colossae. This Greek word is the same Greek word translated in other places as "Holy" such as in the "Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit could also be translated as the Saintly Spirit and the saints could also be called the holy-ones. In calling them saints he was referring to the entire church, not just a select few of them. They were all holy and they were all saints. What makes us holy in Christ, and thus saints, is not how spiritual we are or what acts of piety we've done but whose presence is within us. Something is holy because God is there. When Jesus lives within us, then we too are holy.
Paul was an apostle by the will of God. An apostle is not something you can study to be. It is not something that you can aspire to and become through hard work and determination. It is something you are called to do by God, even if that calling is contrary to your wishes.Paul writes of his own calling saying, "For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me." (1 Corinthians 9:17) Sometimes we can feel jealousy for whom others are in Christ but our focus should be on who and what God has called us to be. God's grace is found in His calling. Trying to be someone else will only make us weary and ineffectual. We must be whom God has called us to be.