Philippians 2:25
But I thought it necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my needs.
Sermons
Paul and EpaphroditusAlexander MaclarenPhilippians 2:25
Christian FriendshipJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 2:19-30
Christian IntercourseJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 2:19-30
Christian Mutual HappinessL. O. Thompson.Philippians 2:19-30
Paul, Timothy, and EpaphroditusA. Raleigh, D. D.Philippians 2:19-30
The Considerate Missions of Epaphroditus and TimothyR.M. Edgar Philippians 2:19-30
The Mission of TimothyJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 2:19-30
The Value of a True ComforterH. W. Beecher.Philippians 2:19-30
Timothy and EpaphroditusR. Finlayson Philippians 2:19-30
Two Characters, Representing Two Aspects of Christian WorkV. Hutton Philippians 2:19-30
Epaphroditus the Link Between the Apostle and PhilippiT. Croskery Philippians 2:24-30
EpaphroditusJ. Daille.Philippians 2:25-30
EpaphroditusJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 2:25-30
EpaphroditusBishop Lightfoot.Philippians 2:25-30
EpaphroditusW.F. Adeney Philippians 2:25-30
The Attachment of Fellow SoldiersPhilippians 2:25-30
The Relations of BelieversJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 2:25-30
The Titles of EpaphroditusR. Sibbes, D. D.Philippians 2:25-30
True Laborers for ChristD. Thomas Philippians 2:25-30


Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, etc. Epaphroditus, it would seem, had been sent from the Church at Philippi to Paul at Rome, with supplies for his temporal necessities. In the execution of his commission he had fallen sick, and now, having reached convalescence, he longed to return home in order to relieve the anxieties of his friends, who had heard of his indisposition. The text presents to us two genuine, if not model, workers for Christ - men thoroughly imbued with the Christly spirit, and subject to those trials which generally attend in this world the faithful discharge of the gospel mission. In them we discover -

I. A FEELING OF SPIRITUAL EQUALITY. Paul speaks of Epaphroditus as "my brother," "my companion," or, as in the New Version, "my fellow-worker" and "my fellow-soldier." Whatever difference existed in their natural or acquired abilities, their worldly position and social standing, a sense of spiritual equality possessed and ruled them. They were children of the same great Father, laborers in the same great cause, soldiers in the same moral campaign - a campaign against the evils, physical, intellectual, social, and moral, that afflict the world. Where is this sense of spiritual equality displayed now amongst those who profess to be laborers of Christ? What would be thought of an archbishop writing a letter to a Church concerning a primitive local preacher, a true laborer withal, with these words, "my brother, my laborer, my fellow-soldier," receive him with all gladness; and hold such in reputation? Such conduct from the primate would shock the fawning sycophancy which is too rampant in Church and state.

II. A SENTIMENT OF TENDER SYMPATHY. Here is sympathy manifested by three parties.

1. By the Philippian Church towards Paul. Touched with Paul's wretched condition in Rome, a prisoner lacking food, they sent Epaphroditus to him with means of relief, made him the "messenger" of charity.

2. By Epaphroditus towards the Philippian Church. Paul says, "he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness." Why was he "full of heaviness," or in sore trouble? It does not say that it was on his own account, but because "ye had heard he had been sick." He was afraid that the tidings which they had received of his indisposition would distress them with anxieties, and he hurries home to relieve them.

3. By Paul for both. "I sent him therefore the more carefully [diligently], that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful." As if he had said, "I want your sorrows removed, for in your sorrows I sorrow." How beautiful, thrice beautiful, is all this! How rare, withal! how Christly! Nay, there is no Christliness without it. Unless Christianity unites all souls in this living sympathy, it has failed in its mission. All true disciples are members of one body, of which Christ is the Head, and what one feels, all feel, and they rejoice with those that rejoice, and weep with those that weep.

III. A CONDITION OF TRYING AFFLICTION. Paul was a sufferer. He was not only a prisoner at Rome, awaiting a terrible fate, but in actual "need," dependent on the charity of others. Epaphroditus had been in sore affliction, "nigh unto death." Now, it is worthy of note that the affliction that came on both these men came on them in consequence of their Christianity. One might have thought that their Christianity, their generosity, purity, and moral nobleness, would have guarded them from even the common ills of life. Not so. Paul knew that such afflictions were to be expected, and elsewhere he says, "No man should be moved by these afflictions. Ye yourselves know that ye are appointed thereunto." Afflictions, however, that come in this way are distinguished from all other afflictions in two respects.

1. They have a disciplinary influence. They are not judicial penalties, but parental chastisements. They cleanse, they spiritualize, they ennoble the soul.

2. They have Divine supports. So abundant are the consolations they experience that they "glory in tribulation," etc.

IV. A REALIZATION OF DIVINE MERCY. "For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow." He ascribes both the restoration of Epaphroditus to health, and his own deliverance from the terrible "sorrow" which would have befallen himself had his friend expired, to the mercy of God. Not to any secondary instrumentality, not to the value of their services in the cause of Christ, but to mercy. A practical realization of Divine mercy is at once a sign and element of vital Christianity. In the gift of life there is mercy, in the sustentation of life there is mercy, in the afflictions of life there is mercy; to a Christian all is mercy.

V. A RIGHT TO CHRISTIAN REGARD. "Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me."

1. Give him a hearty reception. "Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness." Welcome him, not with mere conventional civility and social politeness, but with exultant affection.

2. Treat him with honor. "Hold such in reputation." He is a noble man; treat him as a noble man should be treated. The honor which is paid to worldly men on account of their wealth, their grandeur and position, is a spurious honor, is flunkeyism. There can be no true honor where there is not the honour-worthy, and the honour-worthy implies moral excellence.

3. Do all this because he deserves it. "Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death." He is thoroughly disinterested; he suffered and risked his life, not from any personal motives, but from the inspiration of Christian love and charity. Disinterestedness is the soul of virtue and the only foundation of greatness. A disinterested man has a right to Christian regard, ay, more, to enthusiastic reception. - D.T.









I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus
I. HIS TITLES.

1. The first of these shows his religion, and his holy union with the apostle and other believers. For the Christians in these early ages called each other "brother," a name full of sweetness and friendliness derived from the custom of the Jewish Church, and suitable, inasmuch as they all have one Father, and are all begotten by one Spirit, uniting them in one family. They are nourished by the same food, consecrated by the same sacraments, and called to the same inheritance. Every time you see a Christian, whatever his condition, he is your brother. Paul did not disdain to acknowledge Epaphroditus.

2. "Companion in labour" relates to office, viz., the ministry; and how excellent the office which renders men companions of Paul and the apostles.

3. "Fellow soldier" expresses the part he had taken in his battles against the devil, the world, false brethren, etc., for the glory of his Master and the salvation of the flock. This title is peculiarly suitable to believers in Jesus Christ, who are called to suffer persecution, carry the cross, and "wrestle not with flesh and blood," etc. (2 Timothy 2:3-5).

4. "Your messenger," in relation to his special mission to the apostle.

5. "My minister," in reference to the service rendered St. Paul: not the least of the glories of Epaphroditus.

II. HIS SICKNESS. How strange it seems that so good and useful a man should be disabled, and that Paul, who could cure diseases, could not cure his! Learn, however —

1. That the Lord wishes that His servants should be subject to these afflictions and infirmities lest the excellence of their piety and graces should raise their vanity. Thus they are kept modest (2 Corinthians 12:6).

2. That the wonders of His power may shine gloriously when, with such weak instruments, He does not fail to perform His work (2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9; 2 Peter 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:6-7).

III. HIS CURE.

1. God often allows His own to descend to the last degree of sorrow to relieve them afterwards from it with greater eclat: as we see in the cases of Hezekiah and David. This proceeding is very suitable.(1) For us; that our faith may be better exercised, the extremity of our danger firing our zeal and warming our desires in vows and prayers.(2) For God; the greater our danger the more glorious His power.

2. This was not merely an exercise of God's power, but of(1) His mercy towards Epaphroditus.(2) His goodness towards Paul. Christianity does not dehumanize us. Paul's sorrow was deep because natural.

IV. HIS RETURN. This good servant of God, knowing that the news of his malady had much grieved his friends, touched with reciprocal love, desired, as soon as he was in health, to see them again that he might change their sorrow into joy. Which shall we most admire, the affection of the flock towards the shepherd or that of the shepherd towards the flock. It is one of the miracles of love which unites and blends what distance in vain separates.

V. HIS RECOMMENDATION (ver. 29). For the love of the Lord as His faithful servant whom He has given you, receive him. This is what Christ calls receiving one in His name (Mark 9:37). Learn —

1. Not to judge of men by the accidents which befall them. Innocence is not always prosperous, and piety often falls into great calamities.

2. That it is one thing to meet with affliction in the work of the Lord, and another to meet with it as an effect of our vice, avarice, or vanity.

3. That the closest and tenderest relations should subsist between pastor and flock.

4. That personal considerations should yield to the advantage of the Church.

(J. Daille.)

I. HIS CHRISTIAN STATUS — a brother, etc.

II. HIS SICKNESS.

1. Incurred in the service of Christ.

2. A source of solicitude to the apostle and the Church.

III. HIS RECOVERY through Divine mercy.

IV. HIS RETURN to Philippi.

1. Welcome.

2. Honourable.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. BROTHER. A name significant —

1. Of office. As judges call one another brother, so does Paul Epaphroditus, because they discharged the same spiritual functions.

2. Of love and friendship. It shows the care which one Christian man should have of another.

3. Of equality. Hereby St. Paul shows

(1)His humility, who, being an apostle, called one of inferior rank brother.

(2)His magnanimity.

II. FELLOW LABOURER. Unless ministers are this they are fellow loiterers. This must not be, because the Scriptures compares their office with the most laborious of occupations. If ministers are fellow labourers, then —

1. Their people must submit to be wrought upon. If they are builders you must be lively stones, and suffer yourselves to be squared and made fit for the building. If they are husbandmen you must be the ground, and such as may bring forth fruit to perfection, else all their labour upon you will be vain.

2. God suffers them not to be alone (Mark 6:7) so that they may render mutual aid. Thus He sent and , the one severe and powerful, the other meek and gentle; Luther hot and fiery, and Melanchthon soft and mild, each to temper the other.

III. FELLOW SOLDIER.

1. Every man's life is a warfare.

2. In this warfare ministers are captains, who fight against the enemies within us, and lead us against the enemies without us. Then —

(1)Hold not forth against the ministry.

(2)Help it (Judges 5:23).

(3)Look for recompense in the triumphant kingdom.

IV. MESSENGER OF THE CHURCHES AND MINISTER TO PAUL'S WANTS.

1. The child of God is subject to wants.

2. They shall be satisfied. Rather than Elias shall perish for hunger the ravens shall feed him (1 Kings 17:4). If Dives will not have mercy on Lazarus, dogs shall. For Paul God provides an Epaphroditus or an Onesiphorus.

(R. Sibbes, D. D.)

I. THEIR FELLOWSHIP.

1. Brethren.

2. Companions in toil and conflict.

II. THEIR CONSEQUENT SYMPATHY WITH EACH OTHER.

1. They respect each other's wishes.

2. Help each other's joys.

3. Minister to each other's wants.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

is known to us only from the notices in this Epistle. He is, doubtless, to be distinguished from Epaphras (Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:12; Philemon 1:23); for though the names are the same the identity seems improbable.

1. The one appears to have been a native of Philippi (ver. 25); the other of Colossae (Colossians 4:12). The longer form is always used of the Philippian delegate; the shorter, of the Colossian teacher. The name, in fact, is so extremely common in both forms that the coincidence affords no presumption of the identity of persons. The name is not specially characteristic of Macedonia, but occurs abundantly everywhere. On a Thessalonian inscription we meet with one Gaius Claudius Epaphroditus. This concurrence of names is suggestive. The combination which occurs once might well occur again; and it is possible, though in the absence of evidence hardly probable, that Gaius the Macedonia (Acts 19:29) is the same as Epaphroditus the Philippian.

(Bishop Lightfoot.)

An American officer who had fought in the late wars was seated in his pleasant parlour, musing on the turbulent scenes through which he had passed. Suddenly the doorbell rang. The officer rose to open, the newcomer, and a lame and weather beaten soldier stood before him. "Will you buy my books, sir?" he said. "I do not wish them," was the quick reply, and the door was closed. The officer resumed his seat, but strange questionings arose in his mind. Was not that the face of one he knew? Had he not heard that voice before? Impressed as with the fear of some ill act, he quickly advanced to the door, and on opening it again, there stood the brave hero of many battles with the big tears starting from his eyes. He spoke again — "Don't you know me, colonel?" The voice had a well remembered sound. And this time it fell not on dead ears nor a stony heart. The maimed soldier was recognized as one who had fought on many a field of daring and carnage by the officer's side, and who was covered all over with glorious scars, the tokens of his patriotism and bravery. Instantly the door was flung wide open, and the veteran was welcomed into the mansion of the opulent officer, who, with tears in his eyes, fell on the hero's neck and embraced him. The scene that followed the recognition was one never to be forgotten, and the colonel afterwards, relating the incident of the meeting, said he felt at that greeting a veneration for his old comrade almost amounting to a feeling of worship.

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