A Message for Archippus and for Us


Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the work you have received from the Lord.” Colossians 4:17

We are called to complete the work we have received from the Lord.

If each of us asks “What is the work the Lord has given me to do?” we will have general answers and specific answers. I am called to love the Lord with heart and soul and mind and strength. I am called to love my neighbor as myself. I am called to forgive others as Christ has forgiven me. I am called to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus. These answers are general answers. All Christians are called to the “work” of being like Jesus. This work is only complete when we go home to be with the Lord.

But each of us is also called to specific work. I was called to be pastor at Mercer Island Presbyterian Church, and I did that work for 23 years. The day came when that work was complete. If I had not recognized the work was complete, I would not have been available when the Lord called me to be president of Union University of California. Now I need to see that I complete this work at UUC. At the same time I am called in lesser ways to other work in the Lord. For example, I am called by the Lord to be a sponsor for the Black Prisoners Caucus in the Washington State Prison System. The Lord has given me a specific call to visit the prisoner, and to work on behalf of prisoners. I need to complete this work as well. I receive other work assignments from the Lord as well, and I must complete them.

In the last chapter of the letter to the Colossians, Paul writes: “Tell Archippus, ‘See to it that you complete the work you received from the Lord.’” We know very little about who Archippus was, only that Paul describes him as “my fellow soldier” in Philemon, verse 2. And that he was connected to the church at Colossae and was perhaps a member of Philemon’s family. Church tradition also says that Archippus died as a martyr in Chonae near Laodicea.

We also don’t know what specific work Archippus was called to do. But we do know that an individual named Archippus received “from the Lord” a specific work to complete. And Paul was reminding him to finish it.

To do the work that we receive from the Lord, we need endurance. Often the work is long and difficult, sometimes dangerous, sometimes frustrating due to difficult circumstances or opposition. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews says: “You have need of endurance so that having done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” (Hebrews 10:36)

You know the general works you have received from the Lord to do. They are works that take a lifetime to complete, and we all need endurance to complete them. Do you also know the specific work the Lord has given you to complete? The message to you is the same as the message to Archippus: “See to it that you complete the work you have received from the Lord.”

My experience in 45 years of ministry is that if you don’t do the work you are called to do, no one else can complete your work for you. The Lord needs you to do it.

Brothers and Sisters, let us pray for one another and intercede for each other that we may Shave the endurance to complete our tasks, and so to receive the promises of God as good and faithful servants.

 God bless you all in your faithfulness to your calling.