“Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellow laborer, and to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in thy house: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philemon 1:1-3.) Philemon was evidently a wealthy man, with slaves under him. One of his slaves, Onesimus, ran away and went to Rome. Probably he stole from his master before he left. In Rome he met the Apostle Paul, and through him, Onesimus found the Lord, and became His slave.
Paul writes this exquisite little Epistle, commending Onesimus to his old master, as he sends him back again. This is God’s order, and we may well believe that Philemon received him now “forever; not now as a slave, but above a slave, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord.”
Apphia we suppose to be the wife of Philemon, the mistress of the household; and Archippus was, we may suppose, their grown up son. His name means, “Captain of the Horse.” Perhaps he was a young cavalry captain in the Roman army. We believe they lived at Colosse, (Colossians 4:17), though of this we are not certain. But we do know that the assembly of believers in the town, in which they lived, gathered at their house.
A special service had been entrusted to Archippus, the son. What that service was we are not told: but the Apostle writes: “And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it.” (Colossians 4:17.) When the man traveled into the far country, in Matthew 25:14-30, he delivered his goods unto his own servants: “to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability.” And I suppose there is not of my readers to whom the Lord has not entrusted some special service; …to each of us according to our several ability. We may not do as the servant with the one talent did, and hide our talent in the earth; but the Lord’s word to Archippus comes to every one of us who belong to Him, and to each of our children, who are His: “Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it.”
Well indeed it is if we parents or grandparents may be enabled to help to train these abilities, these talents, so that they may be “fulfilled”, filled to the full, used in their best and highest way by each of our children. We have seen that these children are only a loan from the Lord to us, to train up for Himself. He has given to each abilities, talents, which they are responsible to use for Himself, and it is our happy privilege to seek to help them to fulfill this ministry. May God give us the faithfulness and the wisdom we so sorely need to truly do this wisely and well for Him, Whose they are and Whom they serve.