Ep'aphras (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" (Col 1:7; Col 4:12). A.D. 57. It has been inferred from Col 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 Col 4:12, ὁ 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 Col 4:2). He was at that time with Paul at Rome (Col 4:12), and seems by the expression there used to have been at least a Colossian by birth. We find him again mentioned in the epistle to Philemon (verse 23), which was sent at the same time as that to the Colossians. Paul there calls him ὁ 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. Ro 16:13). The martyrologies make Epaphras to have been first bishop of Colossee, and to have suffered martyrdom there. SEE EPAPHRODITUS.