“Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house” (Colossians 4:15).
This short passage offers three quick topics for our consideration. We can start with a look at the person who is identified for us within this verse.
You see, the person named here in Colossians 4:15 may be a male or female depending on the way this name is accentuated. Unfortunately, this represented a challenge for ancient copyists of this letter since accents did not appear within the original text. (1) Because of this, some translations use the male form “Nymphas” (such as the KJV and its variants) while others use the female form “Nympha” (ESV, HCSB, NIV).
While critics may seek to identify these differences as errors, it is worth noting that we definitely have the correct reading of this verse. We’re simply not certain which reading is correct.
Next, one scholar takes the occasion of this passage to discuss male-female relationships in the early church…
“Some manuscripts identify this person, who hosted a Laodicean house church, as a woman (“her house”). There are several references to women (whose marital status is not mentioned) as patrons or hosts of churches, or as workers in ministry (Acts 12:12; 16:13–15; Rom. 16:1, 2, 6, 7, 12, 13; Phil. 4:2, 3; possibly 2 John 1, 5…).
The standard of relationships between men and women, particularly husbands and wives, set out in 3:18 and parallels (1 Cor. 14:33–35; Eph. 5:22–33; 1 Tim. 2:11–15), was not inconsistent with the partnership in some forms of Christian ministry that existed between men and women in the early church.” (2)
The final aspect of this passage involves where these meetings took place. Since there were no church buildings in the New Testament era, members of the first-century Christian community generally met together within individual homes. There might be several of these home fellowships within a city and together, they constituted the “church” in that area.
Another commentator provides us with the following insight regarding this arrangement…
“We must remember that there was no such thing as a special Church building until the third century. Up to that time the Christian congregations met in the houses of those who were the leaders of the Church. There was the Church which met in the house of Aquila and Prisca in Rome and Ephesus (Rom_16:5; 1Co_16:19). There was the Church which met in the house of Philemon (Phm_1:2 ). In the early days, Church and home were identical: and it is still true that every Christian home should also be a Church of Jesus Christ.” (3)
(1) See discussion on this topic here
(2) Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 2128). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
(3) Barclay, William, William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible Colossians 4 https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/colossians-4.html. 1