From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

(shortened probably from Epaphroditus , but not to be identified with the evangelist so named)

Epaphras was a native or citizen of Colossae ( Colossians 4:12), the founder, or at least an early and leading teacher of the Church there ( Colossians 1:7, where καί, ‘also,’ is omitted in the oldest Manuscripts), who had special relations with the neighbouring churches of Laodicea and Hierapolis ( Colossians 4:13). St. Paul had not yet visited this community when he wrote Col.; but if the reading ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν (‘on our behalf,’ ‘as our delegate’) be accepted in  Colossians 1:7 (as by Revised Versionon the authority of the three oldest Manuscripts), the Apostle, during his long residence at Ephesus, when ‘all who dwelt in Asia heard the Word’ ( Acts 19:10), must have specially commissioned Epaphras to evangelize Colossae in his (St. Paul’s) name ( Colossians 4:12-13). Epaphras’ intimate association with St. Paul is shown by the designations ‘beloved fellow-bondsman’ ( Colossians 1:2) and ‘fellow-captive’ ( Philemon 1:23). The latter word (cf.  Colossians 4:10,  Romans 16:7), if it be not here used metaphorically, suggests either that Epaphras’ friendship with St. Paul created suspicion and thus led to his arrest, or that he voluntarily shared the Apostle’s captivity (Lightfoot, Colossians 3, 1879, p. 34f.).*[Note: Jerome (Com. on  Philemon 1:23) mentions, without endorsing it, a tradition that St. Paul and Epaphras, in boyhood, were carried together as captives in war from Judaea to Tarsus.]

When Col. was written, Epaphras had recently arrived in Rome, and had given St. Paul a report of the Church of Colossae. The Apostle assures the Colossian Christians of Epaphras’ great zeal as well as fervent prayers for them; and he conveys to them the friendly greeting of their townsman, who remained in Rome with St. Paul ( Colossians 4:12-13). The report about the Church of Colossae was on the whole favourable. Epaphras testifies to the spiritual life and fruitfulness of its members; to their conspicuous faith, hope, and charity ( Colossians 1:4-6). There was, however, a disquieting account of a peculiar heresy, which had broken out in the community-a combination of Judaistic formalism with Oriental theosophy (see Colossians). Epaphras, filled with anxiety, had wrestled (ἀγωνιζόμενος) in prayer for his converts ‘that they might stand fully assured in all the will of God’ ( Colossians 4:12). Probably one reason of his visit to Rome was to consult St. Paul about this new peril. The solicitude of Epaphras was shared by the Apostle, who, amid thanksgiving for the spiritual progress of the Colossians, admonishes them ( Colossians 1:23) to abide in the truth, ‘grounded and stedfast.’ Epaphras sends salutations to the household of Philemon, the letter to whom was dispatched along with the Epistle to the Colossians. Thenceforth Epaphras disappears from reliable history; later traditions represent him as ‘bishop’ of Colossae, as suffering martyrdom, and eventually having his bones interred under the Church of Sta. Maria Maggiore in Rome.

Literature.-J. D. Strohbach, de Epaphrä , 1710; Commentaries of Lightfoot, Ellicott, Eadie, Abbott, Wohlenberg, Maclaren, Haupt, etc., on Colossians; F. Vigouroux, Dict. de la Bible , 1891-99; article‘Epaphras’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) , Hastings’ Single-vol. Dictionary of the Bible , and Encyclopaedia Biblica .

Henry Cowan.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

EPAPHRAS . Mentioned by St. Paul in   Colossians 1:7;   Colossians 4:12 ,   Philippians 1:23; and described by him as his ‘fellow-servant,’ and also as a ‘servant’ and ‘faithful minister’ of Christ. He was a native or inhabitant of Colossæ (  Colossians 4:12 ), and as St. Paul’s representative (  Colossians 1:7 ) founded the Church there (  Colossians 1:7 ). The fact of his prayerful zeal for Laodicea and Hierapolis suggests his having brought the faith to these cities also (  Colossians 4:13 ). He brought news of the Colossian Church to the Apostle during his first Roman imprisonment, perhaps undertaking the journey to obtain St. Paul’s advice as to the heresies that were there prevalent. He is spoken of as St. Paul’s ‘fellow-prisoner’ (  Philippians 1:23 ), a title probably meaning that his care of the Apostle entailed the practical sharing of his captivity. The Epistle to the Colossians was a result of this visit, and Epaphras brought it back with him to his flock. Epaphras is a shortened form of Epaphroditus (  Philippians 2:25 ), but, as the name was in common use, it is not probable that the two are to be identified.

Charles T. P. Grierson.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

Paul's "dear fellow servant, who is for you (the Colossian Christians,  Colossians 1:7) a faithful minister of Christ," perhaps implying Epaphras was the founder of the Colossian church. In  Philemon 1:23, "my fellow prisoner." Apprehended possibly for his zealous labors in Asia Minor; literally, "fellow captive" ( Sunaichmalootos ), taken in the Christian warfare ( Philippians 2:25), or else more probably designated so as Paul's faithful companion in imprisonment. He had been sent by the Colossians to inquire after and minister to Paul.

Aristarchus is designated Paul's "fellow prisoner" in  Colossians 4:10, and his "fellow laborer" in  Philemon 1:24 (both epistles were sent at the same time). But, vice versa, Epaphras in the Epistle to Philemon is" his fellow prisoner," and in the Epistle to the Colossians "his fellow laborer." In  Colossians 4:12 Paul thus commends him, "Epaphras who is one of you (a native or resident of Colosse), a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently ( Agoonizomenos , 'striving as in the agony of a contest') for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God."

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

Ep'aphras. (Lovely). A fellow laborer with the apostle Paul, mentioned in  Colossians 1:7, as having taught the Colossian church, the grace of God in truth, and designated a faithful minister of Christ on their behalf. He was, at that time, with St. Paul at Rome. (A.D. 57). For Paul's estimate of him, see  Colossians 1:7-8;  Colossians 4:12.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [5]

Fellow prisoner with Paul at Rome. He laboured at Colosse, to which place he belonged. He is described as 'a faithful minister of Christ,' and one who agonised in prayer for the Colossians, with zeal for their welfare.  Colossians 1:7;  Colossians 4:12;  Philippians 23 .

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [6]

Supposed to have founded the church at Colosse, and denominated by Paul his "dear fellow-servant" and "a faithful minister of Jesus Christ."  Colossians 1:7   4:12 . He was for a time an inmate of Paul's house of imprisonment at Rome.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [7]

It is supposed, that he was the first bishop of Colosse. ( Colossians 1:7) His name is from the Greek, meaning covered with foam.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [8]

 Colossians 1:7 4:12 Philippians 1:23

Holman Bible Dictionary [9]

 Colossians 1:7

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [10]

( Ε᾿Παφρᾶς , usually considered a contraction of Epaphroditus, but the last syllable in that case is hardly regular), an eminent teacher in the Church at Colossae, denominated by Paul "his dear fellow-servant," and "a faithful minister ( Διάκονος ) of Christ" ( Colossians 1:7;  Colossians 4:12). A.D. 57. It has been inferred from  Colossians 1:7 that he was the founder of the Colossian Church; and Dr. Neander supposes that the apostle terms him Ὑπὲρ Ἡμῶν Διάκονος Χριστοῦ (A Servant Of Christ In Our Stead) because he committed to him the office of proclaiming the Gospel in the three Phrygian cities Colossae, Hierapolis, and Laodicea, which he could not visit himself (Hist. of Planting, 1:200, 373). This language, however, is by no means decisive; yet most probably Epaphras was one of the earliest and most zealous instructors of the Colossian Church (see Alford's prolegomena to that epistle, Gr. Test. 3:35 sq.). Lardner thinks that the expression respecting Epaphras in Coloss. 4:12, Ἐξ Ὑμῶν , is quite inconsistent with the supposition of his being the founder of the Church, since the same phrase is applied to Onesimus, a recent convert (Hist. Of The Apostles And Evangelists, c. 14; Works, 6:153). But in both cases the words in question seem intended simply to identify these individuals as the fellow-townsmen of the Colossians, and to distinguish them from others of the same name in Rome (see Macknight on  Colossians 4:2). He was at that time with Paul at Rome ( Colossians 4:12ὁ συναιχμαλωτός μου, my fellow-prisoner; but some regard the word there as only a tender and delicate expression of Epaphras's attention to the apostle in his imprisonment (comp.  Romans 16:13). The martyrologies make Epaphras to have been first bishop of Colossee, and to have suffered martyrdom there. (See Epaphroditus).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [11]

ep´a - fras ( Ἐπαφρᾶς , Epaphrás ): A contracted form of Epaphroditus. He must not, however, be confounded with the messenger of the Philippian community. He was with Paul during a part of his 1st Roman imprisonment, joining in Paul's greetings to Philemon ( Philippians 1:23 ). Epaphras was the missionary by whose instrumentality the Colossians had been converted to Christianity ( Colossians 1:7 ), and probably the other churches of the Lycus had been founded by him. In sending his salutation to the Colossians Paul testified, "He hath much labor for you, and for them in Laodicea, and for them in Hierapolis" ( Colossians 4:13 ). Epaphras had brought to Paul good news of the progress of the gospel, of their "faith in Christ Jesus" and of their love toward all the saints ( Colossians 1:4 ). Paul's regard for him is shown by his designating him "our beloved fellow-servant," "a faithful minister of Christ" ( Colossians 1:7 ), and "a bondservant of Christ Jesus" ( Colossians 4:12 margin) . The last designation Paul uses several times of himself, but only once of another besides Epaphras (  Philippians 1:1 ).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [12]

Ep´aphras, an eminent teacher in the church at Colosse, denominated by Paul 'his dear fellow-servant,' and 'a faithful minister of Christ' . From Paul's Epistle to Philemon it appears that he suffered imprisonment with the Apostle at Rome. It has been inferred from , that he was the founder of the Colossian Church, and most probably he was one of its earliest and most zealous instructors.