Philippians 2:21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.
22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.
23 Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.
24 But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.
25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.
26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.
27 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.
28 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.
29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:
30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.
We see here that the selfishness that is so prevalent today is not a new problem. New Evangelicalism is designed to feed that selfishness. People want music that suits them. They do not understand that true Christian music is not designed to feed man. It is designed to glorify God. We need to pay attention to the words and see if they are actually true to the Word of God. We need to have the mind of Christ and then our music standards will glorify God. The same goes with the preaching and everything else in the Christian life.
Paul contrasts this selfishness with the the things that are Jesus Christ’s. This is what we just talked about. The Christian life is fulfilled in serving the true God. It is fulfilled in learning how to walk with the Lord.
Timothy was a true servant of the Lord. He was not looking to please himself. Paul had dealt with Timothy in II Timothy. We looked at that some time back. Paul was a godly apostle who was not concerned about winning a popularity contest. He was a true servant of the Lord and God was directing him to encourage the saints in Philippi to serve God faithfully.
True pastors serve the Lord first and foremost. In doing that, pastors care about those that God sends their way. Teaching the Word of God faithfully is very important for the pastor as well as for those who God sends their way.
Timothy had been a great blessing to Paul. Paul, being a prisoner, needed someone to help meet his needs. He was not free to get all the things he needed. Prisoners were at the mercy of others to help supply their needs. The Roman government was not concerned about keeping their prisoners healthy. That was up to them to have someone to meet their needs.
In verse 24, Paul was still hopeful that he would be released from prison soon. He was not a criminal. He was in prison for serving the Lord. It was ungodly, false teachers who hated him. They had worked to have him arrested. They would have liked to see him dead. However, Paul knew he was in God’s hand. God would provide and God would direct.
In verse 25 we see that Paul had another brother that was of great help for him. Epaphroditus was a fellowsoldier and he was also their messenger. He was a trusted servant of God and he was of great help to Paul as well. It is important to have someone that you can trust in all things. We know we can trust God in all things, but it is also important to have someone on earth that is not a back stabber. We need someone who will be true and faithful regardless of the circumstances and the consequences.
Epaphroditus was a true servant of God. He was not full of himself. He was concerned about the spiritual well being of others as well. We will see later that he had come from Philippi with a gift from that church to assist Paul with his needs while in prison. The problem with Ephaphroditus was that he had been sick, near unto death.
Today there are Charismatic false teachers who claim that if a “Christian” has enough faith, he or she should not be sick. They misquote Isaiah 53:5-6. Jesus Christ did not shed His blood and die on the cross of Calvary so that we would never be sick. True, faithful Christians get sick and sometimes even die of sickness. It does not mean they lack faith.
Paul was directed by God to write about the faithfulness of Epaphroditus and also about his sickness. Paul also stated that God had been merciful to Epaphroditus and had restored him back to health. True saints trust in God. There are times when true saints need to seek help from doctors. In today’s world, we need to be careful not to blindly follow the doctors. Most doctors have been wrong on the shots. They have ignorantly chosen to promote the shots even though there is much evidence that warns of the dangers of the shots. Not everyone that takes the shots dies from them. However far too many people are dying and too many have adverse effects that are quite severe.
In verse 27 Paul wrote that God had been merciful to Epaphroditus in restoring his health, but it had also been a blessing to Paul. He was not a complainer, but it was not his goal to be in prison. He had a desire to meet with people and he was greatly limited in that while in prison. He wanted to be used of God to the fullest extent in ministering to the spiritual needs of others. Had Epaphroditus died, this would have added more sorrow to Paul’s life. God understood this and God gave Paul this comfort in having his faithful brother in the faith remain for a time longer.
In verse 28 we read that Paul had sent him to Philippi with a sense of diligence and urgency. Paul knew that Epaphroditus would be an encouragement to the saints in Philippi. We see in this passage again how Christians need the fellowship of other Christians. We are not designed to be cooped up by ourselves. We need other saints in our lives just as they need us in their lives.
In verse 29 Paul encouraged the saints to receive Epaphroditus in the Lord with all gladness. Today we have evangelists who are sent out from a local church. They will look for other churches that can help to support them in their work. Often the pastor of their sending church will send out a letter recommending a certain person as being worthy of the support of other saints. That is good. A man needs to be faithful where he is and then if he is called to other work, the local church can be directed by God to encourage others to see the benefit of supporting that person in their work.
In our text, Epaphroditus was not in need of support. He was in need of being received with a right attitude by the saints in Philippi. The saints needed to show respect for this man. He was a faithful servant who had just come through some serious sickness.
In verse 30 we see the selfless nature of this man. He had been near death, not because he had been living carelessly. He was near death in his work of the Lord. He was more interested in serving the Lord than in living an easy life. When a person gives himself to serving the Lord, it is taxing on the body. It can be more than the human body can take at times. We can get sick in serving the Lord faithfully.
Epaphroditus had been more concerned about getting support to Paul than his own health. It seems as well, that the saints in Philippi had fallen behind in their support for Paul, and Epaphroditus had wanted to do all he could to cover that lack with their recent gift to Paul.
Those whom God calls into full-time service for Him still have needs. They need to eat and pay bills. They are dependent on the freewill offerings of other true saints. The work of the Lord is important. Supporting the work of the Lord is also important.
We can learn much about how God’s work is done as we study God’s Word. Sometimes people can assume that the needs of the faithful servant of the Lord will just drop out of the sky. That does not happen. A faithful servant of the Lord will learn how to be frugal with what he receives. True saints know how far a dollar will go. They should not need to be told that the dollar will not go any further with the faithful servant of the Lord than it goes for them.
We have seen before that God loves a cheerful giver. He does not want people grumbling and complaining about giving. He wants His saints to understand that they will not take anything with them. The blessings He blesses them with are there to help meet the needs of others who are serving the Lord in a manner that does not give them an income.
Paul was directed by God to teach us of the details of having the mind of Christ. Having that mind covers all areas of life. If we have that mind, we will see things from God’s perspective and we will be directed by God to meet the needs of those who are serving Him in a more direct manner. Every true child of God is actually in full time service for the Lord. Some do so by being mechanics or plumbers or farmers or many other ways of being employed. Some do so by preaching and teaching the Word. As each one sees their labour as for the Lord, the needs of all will be met.
That is what Paul was directed to help the saints in Philippi to understand. That is what we can learn from this book as well.