An attendant who risked his
25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.
26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill.
27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.
28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.
29 Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him,
30 because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.
I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
Epaphroditus played a key role in Biblical history, even if his name is not immediately recognizable. He is mentioned by name twice in the book of Phillippians, one of Paul's Prison Epistles. Epaphroditus is the one who delivered the original manuscript of Philippians to its original recipients, the Church in Philippi.
Paul was under house arrest in Rome and the church in Philippi desired to send Paul, what we might call a "gift." Paul describes theses gifts as an acceptable offering, pleasing to God. The Philippian believers gathered supplies and sent them to Rome in the hands of one of their own, a man named Epaphroditus.
Epaphroditus faithfully delivered the gift from his home Church and then went above and beyond the call of duty. In selflessly carrying out duties and tasks in fervour to serve the Lord by serving Paul, Epaphroditus became seriously ill and in fact, almost died. God graciously granted him health and Paul sent his friend back home with the newly penned book of Philippians.
To the Philippians, Epaphroditus was a messenger who delivered a package. To Paul, however, he was so much more: a "brother" (belonging to the same family), a "co-worker" (labouring toward the same goal), and a "fellow soldier" (sharing the same trials).
Epaphroditus was a man of obvious devotion, faithfulness, and self-sacrifice. He put "the interests of others" before himself and so, modelled the mind of Christ (Phillippians 2:4-5).
He laboured on Paul's behalf until his own health broke and even when he was sick, Epaphroditus took no consideration of himself ; rather, he was distressed because his Church had heard of his illness and he did not want them to worry.
Paul mentions Epaphroditus again near the close of his letter: "I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God" Phillippians 4:18. The very next verse is the oft-quoted promise that God takes care of those who put God first: "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus".
Like Epaphroditus,when men and women give themselves fully for the sake of God's kingdom, many people benefit. Such a person is worthy of honour and his/her presence is cause for rejoicing.
Few questions to think about today in our quiet time:
- Paul describes Epaphroditus as a fellow soldier and a fellow worker. What are you known for in the Church?
- Epaphroditus risked his life to help and support Paul. In what ways are you supporting God's ministry and ministers even when that causes certain inconveniences to you?
Lets remember- Epaphroditus did not do anything for his own recognition or glory but for Christ. So we should be the same way.
Further reading for meditation : Philippians 2:14; Colossians 3:17,23-24