Philippians 2:25-30 - The Example of Epaphroditus
Review of Last Week
A. Timothy-a young man who willingly served in second place
B. He had a brotherly spirit in caring for others
C. He was willing to deny himself-to be obsessed with the things of Christ
D. He was willing to be a son, a disciple
1. Willing to be tried & proven
2. Willing to go as sent
This week we are going to look at the example of Epaphroditus
Introduction: The Minister Epaphroditus
1) He is not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture.
2) A messenger sent by the church at Philippi with a gift for the apostle Paul (Philippians 4:10-19).
3) Paul was under house arrest in Rome (2:25; 4:18).
4) While in Rome Epaphroditus became ill [even to the point of death cf. 2:8] and word of his sickness spread to Philippi.
5) In turn news returned to Epaphroditus that his church was worried over his sickness.
6) He in turn began to worry about Him.
7) God graciously spared him by healing him of his sickness
8) As soon as Epaphroditus was well enough, Paul sent him back home to relieve the church’s anxiety and to deliver Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
Verse 25 we see a brief description of the man.
Verse’s 26-28 we see the reasons for his return.
Verse’s 29 & 30 we see the manner in which he should be received.
The Possibility of a Problem Existed
1. If he returned back to Philippi before Paul’s verdict was known, some would call him a quitter, coward, a failure.
2. The answer to this criticism is the very reason for this passage.
a. He did not quit nor forsake his brother
b. He did not quit nor forsake the church
c. He did not quit nor forsake God
d. Conclusion: The Appeal
1) Paul is sending him back to the church so the church can enjoy & rejoice in him
2) Receive him: He builds his reputation; he gambles & risks his life for Christ.
I. He Did Not Quit Nor Forsake His Brother Paul
Question: There are five characteristics that Paul says about Epaphroditus, what are they?
A. My brother—“the fellowship in the gospel” 1:5
Brother—refers to a person who has the same parent. Epaphroditus was born of God by placing his faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
— John 1:12 says But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
Israelites we taught not to hate their brothers (Lev. 19:17-18).
Believers are to be…
1. Kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love - Romans 12:10
2. To let brotherly love continue - Hebrews 13:1
3. To Love the brotherhood - 1 Peter 2:17
4. To Love as brothers -1 Peter 3:8
- Refers to the love of Christian believers for one another (Acts 9:17)
· This is to be the badge or hallmark, of a Christian (Jn. 13:35)
Note what else Paul says about Epaphroditus….
B. My fellow worker—“the furtherance of the gospel” 1:12
1. Question: What does Jesus say in Matthew 9:35-38 about laborers? Women also labor according to Philippians 4:13?
— And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith . (Galatians 6:9-10)
— Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).
C. My fellow soldier—“the faith of the gospel” 1:27
1. Question: What is a soldier?
a. A soldier is enlisted in the army 2 TIMOTHY 2:4
b. When you put your faith & trust in Jesus Christ you were enlisted in God’s Army
1) In the army a soldier must be colorblind, they are all green teamwork.
2) God is colorblind therefore we must be colorblind & work together.
c. A good soldier of Jesus Christ endures hardship 2 TIMOTHY 2:3
d. A soldier is engaged in warfare 1 TIMOTHY 1:18
e. A good soldier does not entangle himself in the affairs of this life 2 TIMOTHY 2:4.
1) when a soldier is called to duty, he must be severed from civilian life
2) a soldier must refuse to allow the things of the world to distract him
(a) James 4:4 cf. 1 John 2:15-17
2. Question: Does a soldier go out to battle with no equipment or does he have weapons he uses to fight?
3. Question: What does a “good soldier” of Jesus Christ use?
a. The “armor of God” EPHESIANS 6:10-18
1) a soldier must be “get his order’s from his commanding officer” JESUS CHRIST 6:10
2) a soldier put on his armor & use it, he does not leave it back in the barracks
3) a soldier of Jesus Christ wages war against heavenly hosts 6:12
4) a soldier of Jesus Christ must TAKE UP his armor & STAND against his enemy 6:13
5) a soldier risks his life for the sake of others PHILIPPIANS 2:30
6) a good soldier of Jesus Christ seeks to please his Lord 2 TIMOTHY 2:4
1. What is a messenger?
a. Apostolos – apostle, messenger, someone who has been delegated by the church to carry out an assignment. An official representative through whom the church itself speaks and acts.
1. Epaphroditus was looked upon as a great servant or minister given over to his cause.
2. Requirements or qualities of a servant are…
a. To give their lives over for the service and furtherance of God’s kingdom MATTHEW 20;28
b. To serve others as Christ did MATTHEW 20:28; JOHN 13:4-5, 14
c. To be the servant of all MARK 10:43-44
d. To be faithful 1 CORINTHIANS 4:2
e. To do good unto all men GALATIANS 6:10
— Jesus himself was a minister, servant…“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28 NKJV).
II. He Did Not Quit nor Forsake the Church
This man had qualities of Dedication – Loyalty – Service
A. He was concerned about Paul 4:18
We need to ask God to give us a burden for missions today
B. He was burdened for his own home church v.26
Epaphroditus could have forsaken the mission the church had sent him on because of his sickness
This man lived in Philippians 1:21; 2:3,4 not in Philippians 2:21
Distressed – is used in connection with the unspeakable anguish which Jesus experienced in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:37, Mark 14:33).
III. He Did Not Quit nor Forsake God
This man had Dedication unto the God
A. It looked like God had forsaken him
a. By associating with Paul in Rome he was in danger of being judged as someone who went against the Roman Authority.
b. Then to top it off, he had become ill and almost died
B. God could have prevented this from happening. Why didn’t God stop it?
Question: Does Paul imply in 2:26-30 that a Christian should expect perfect health if he is obeying and believing in Jesus? Why or why not?
"By His stripes we are healed"
"But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed"
Healing is provided for because the atonement brought release from the consequences of sin. However, healing is not guaranteed in the atonement until we receive the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8)
Divine Healing is a sovereign act of God -- not positively confessed. God responds to faith when we pray in accordance with God's Will.
Pray according to God's will -- 1 Jn. 5:14
"And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him."
1 Peter 2:24-25
"...and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and lived to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls..."
Is. 53:4 -- cf. Mat. 8:16, 17
This HAS BEEN fulfilled in the healing ministry of Jesus. Matthew clearly saw Is. 53:4 as referring to physical healing, but as a part of the Messiah's ministry on earth, not as a part of the atonement.
Is Physical Healing Guaranteed in the Atonement?
People Left Sick in the Bible
Elisha -- 2 Kings 13:14
"When Elisha became sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash the King of Israel came down to him and wept over him. . ."
Yet Elisha worked miracles including healings.
Epaphroditus -- Phil 2:26,27
"Because he (Epaphroditus) was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. . . (29). Therefore, receive him in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard; because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me."
Timothy -- 1 Tim. 5:23
"No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments"
Paul -- 2 Cor. 12:7-10
"And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me--to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."
“It was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time . . ."
Trophimus -- 2 Tim 4:20
"Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus."
Why Do Christians Get Sick?
1. We live in a cursed creation Rom 8:18-22
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body."
2. Satan -- Job (given permission by God)
3. To glorify God -- God's Will
"And the Lord said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who make him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?
The Man Born Blind -- Jn 9:2-3
"Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him."
4. Because of sin
The healing of the man at the pool at Bethesda -- John 5:14
"do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may befall you."
5. Taking communion unworthily -- 1 Cor. 11:30
For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.
IV. Conclusion: Paul’s Appeal Earnest Request
1. Paul is sending him back to the church so the church can enjoy & rejoice in him
2. Receive him: He builds his reputation; he gambles & risks his life for Christ for to me to live is Christ
He was a blessed Christian
1. He was a blessing to Paul
He stood with Paul while he was in prison and did not permit even his own sickness to hinder his service.
2. He was a blessing to the church
Paul admonishes the church to honor him because of his sacrifice and service
3. He is a blessing to us today
He proves to us that the joyful life is the life of sacrifice and service.
He and Timothy encourage us to submit ourselves to the Lord, and to one another, in the Spirit of Christ.
Christ is the pattern we follow
Paul shows us the power 4:12-19
Question: The world honors those who are beautiful, intelligent, rich, and powerful. What kind of people should the church honor v.29,30?
Those who give their lives for the sake of Christ, going where we cannot go ourselves. Today our missionaries do this for us.