Philippians 2:25-29 – I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
In Jesus’ ministry, the guy who was supposed to be in charge of the finances was a crooked and corrupt thief. Thankfully, not everyone is like Judas.
The backdrop for Paul’s letter to the Philippian church is that their pastor was arrested and being held in Rome. In that day, prisoners were not given basic needs like food or clothing and so people who cared for them would need to step in to assist.
Doing this very thing for the pastor who founded their church, introducing most of its’ members to Jesus by teaching them the Bible, the very loving and healthy church took a special offering and chose a man named Epaphroditus to deliver the gift. Bible commentators tend to agree that this was a daunting and dangerous task as he had to walk some 800 miles, which could have taken around six weeks. We can assume that this man was honest, dependable, and tough. Epaphroditus was likely an older man since Paul calls him a “brother”, unlike Timothy, who he previously called a “son”.
Along the way to Rome, Epaphroditus fell ill, and nearly died. Word of his condition reached the church in Philippi, which doubled their concern as they loved both Paul and Epaphroditus. Like a soldier on a mission, he somehow made it to Rome to deliver the gift to Paul and nearly died.
What Paul is doing in his letter is showing three things:
- Not every Christian who handles money is a Judas. Epaphroditus did not lose or spend the money, and nearly died delivering it.
- People who do incredible things should be honored, much like a soldier who returns home from combat should be welcomed with cheerful celebration.
- Those who are on a platform need to honor those who are off the platform. Paul is the founding pastor, had preached in the church to get it established, and was still their spiritual father who was writing the church family a heartfelt letter. Paul served visibly and publicly and Epaphroditus served in an unseen role privately. Yet, Paul uses his public platform to honor a godly servant who otherwise we today would know nothing about.
Who is the most faithful, dependable, trustworthy person you know? How can you encourage and thank them today?