PAUL’S AGONY FOR BELIEVERS
Paul often “agonized” for the believers in towns and cities where he had been before, but had left behind in order to carry the gospel to other places. Colossae was one of these places. Located in the province of Asia Minor (Modern day Turkey), Colossae was the least of three cities found in the Lycus valley, the other two, Hieropolis and Laodicea, being more prominent. Although we have no record of who planted the church in Colossae, the apostle Paul certainly must have passed through this area on one of his many missionary journeys. In fact, he spent three years ministering in the city of Ephesus, which was only 119 miles from Colossae or a week’s travel on foot. Yet, Paul agonized over the saints in places like Colossae and Laodicea, which he named in the verse above.
What did Paul mean by saying he “agonized” over them? Perhaps the best understanding is found in Dr. Strong’s definition of the Greek word, ἀγών (“agon”), as an “intense solicitude or anxiety.” Paul wrestled in his prayers and thoughts over the believers in Colossae, Laodicea and even those he didn’t know personally. What a heart Paul had for the sheep the Great Shepherd had entrusted to him!
Today, the sites of Hieropolis, Laodicea and Colossae are in ruins, with Colossae only being marked by a sign on what archaeologists call a “tel” (“An unexcavated mound”). The places may now lie in ruins, but the people that placed their trust in Christ are now in that everlasting city not made by human hands.