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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Archippus

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(Ἄρχιππος)

An office-bearer of the Apostolic Church referred to in Colossians 4:17 as exercising a ministry ‘in the Lord,’ i.e. in fellowship with, and in the service of, Christ. He is addressed by St. Paul as ‘fellow-soldier’-a designation possibly occasioned by some special service in which the two had been engaged together during St. Paul’s three years’ abode at Ephesus, where the Apostle had severe conflicts with assailants (1 Corinthians 15:32). More probably, however, the expression refers to the general fellowship of the two men in evangelistic work (cf. Philippians 2:25). The military figure may have been suggested by the Apostle’s environment at Rome.

Archippus may have been a presbyter bishop, a leading deacon, an evangelist, or a prominent teacher at the time when St. Paul wrote. From Philemon 1:2 he appears to have been a member of Philemon’s household, and be is regarded by most commentators (after Theodore of Mopsuestia) as his son. Accordingly, it is generally supposed (after Chrysostom) that Archippus was an office bearer of the Colossian Church. Against this inference Lightfoot adduces (1) the mention of Archippus in Col. immediately after a reference to Laodicea; (2) the alleged unlikelihood of Archippus being addressed in Colossians 4:17 indirectly instead of directly, if he were himself an official of the Church to which St. Paul was writing; (3) the tradition (embodied in the Apost. Constitutions, vii. 46) that Archippus became ‘bishop,’ or presiding presbyter, of Laodicea. Lightfoot infers that Archippus fulfilled his ministry at Laodicea, which was not many miles from Colossae: and the mention of him in Philem. is accounted for by supposing that St. Paul (through Tychicus, the bearer of his letter to Philemon) might have suggested that Onesimus should be employed not in the city where he had lived as a slave, but in the Laodicean Church under Archippus. The usual supposition, however, that Archippus lived with Philemon at Colossae and also laboured there, appears, on the whole, more natural and probable.

The message conveyed to Archippus (‘Take heed [look] to the ministry,’ etc.) is held by Lightfoot (Coloss.3 42f.) to imply a rebuke, as if Archippus had been remiss or unfaithful in the discharge of official duty; and Lightfoot, believing that Archippus held office at Laodicea, compares the admonition to him with the censure on account of lukewarmness administered in Revelation 3 to the angel and church of the Laodiceans. The message, however, to Archippus can hardly be regarded as necessarily suggesting more than that his work was specially important and arduous, demanding from himself earnest watchfulness, and from an older ‘fellow-campaigner,’ like St. Paul, the incentive of sympathetic exhortation and warning. Theophylact, in his commentary, supposes that the apostolic message is purposely made public, instead of being conveyed in a private letter, riot so much to suggest Archippus’ special need of admonition, as to enable him, without offence, to deal in like manner with brethren under himself.

In the Greek Martyrology, Archippus appears (in the Menœa under Nov. 22) as having been stoned to death, along with Philemon, at Chonae, near Laodicea. His alleged eventual ‘episcopate’ or presiding presbyterate at Laodicea is at least possible, and even probable; but the inclusion of his name in the pseudo-Dorothean list (6th cent.) of the Seventy of Luke 10 is quite incredible.

Literature.-J. A. Dietelmaier. de Archippo, Altdorf, 1751; J. B. Lightfoot, Colossians3, 1879, pp. 42f., 308ff.; sea also Literature under Philemon.

Henry Cowan.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Archippus'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/a/archippus.html. 1906-1918.

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Wednesday, February 20th, 2019
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