Paul seems to say that someone named Epaphras started the church at Colossae. Then he adds that Epaphras is “one of our dearly loved associates” (Colossians 1:7). Does that sound like Paul is laying claim to a leadership role over this church, perhaps a bit like bishops or district superintendents who supervise local pastors or priests? If so, why do you think he did it?
Paul considered himself an apostle, a top-tier leader in the Christian movement. He wrote about it in a letter to a church that caused him a lot of trouble: “Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles” (1 Corinthians 12:28 NLT). Paul may have put apostles at the top of the list because they were handpicked by Jesus, and they had met Jesus—though in Paul’s case it was in a vision (Acts 9:3-5).