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."
Several things were said of Epaphroditus besides him being
sick. First, Paul called him a brother. We, as part of the
household of faith, should consider ourselves to be brothers
and sisters. Our care and concern for one another should be
as the care and concern that a brother would have for a
brother. Further, Paul called him "my brother." This shows
a personalizing of the relationship. We should have
personal relationships with each of the members of the
church of our membership.
Next, Paul referred to Epaphroditus as a companion in labour.
A companion is someone who works side by side with you.
Paul was laboring in the gospel of Jesus Christ and
Ephaphroditus was laboring side by side with Paul in the
gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, we are not told specifically
that Ephaproditus was a gospel minister, yet it is implied
that he is. The lesson is for all of us, whether we preach
the gospel or not, and that is that we are all to be
fellowlaborers in the gospel kingdom. We all have our labor
given to us of the Lord and we should be laboring together
for the welfare and the furtherance of the gospel kingdom.
We should be companions in labor.
Moreover, Paul referred to Epaphroditus as a fellowsoldier.
Thus, they both were soldiers of the same order. One was
not above the other, but they were of the same rank, thus
fellowsoldiers of Jesus Christ. Soldiers have a battle to
fight and are dependant on the support and actions of their
fellowsoldiers on the battlefield. We should consider
ourselves as soldiers of Jesus Christ and fight the good
fight of faith. We are depending upon the same captain
(Jesus Christ) and also depending upon the actions and
support of one another in our fight on the battlefield.
Next, Paul referred to Epaphroditus as a messenger. A
messenger bears a message. He is carrying the message from
the one who sent him to the people to whom he is being
sent. The message is the most important thing. A messenger
is to faithfully deliver the message. Likewise, we are all
messengers of Jesus Christ, whether we publicly preach the
gospel or not. We are to "sanctify the Lord God in our
hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man
that asketh us the reason of the hope that is within us with
meekness and fear." Similarly, we may be sent of the Lord
to give words of comfort to a fellow traveler. There are
many ways that God's disciples are messengers of the Lord
besides the gospel ministers.
Moreover, Epaphroditus was a minister to the needs of Paul.
We are not told what those needs were, but, apparently, Paul
had needs and Epaphroditus ministered to those needs. We
are told not to shut up our bowels of compassion to the
needs of our brethren: 1 John 3:17 "But whoso hath this
world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth
up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love
of God in him?" Also, James 2:15 "If a brother or sister be
naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say
unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled;
notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are
needful to the body; what doth it profit?" Additionally,
James 1:27 "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the
Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their
affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."
The conclusion is that we are all to be ministers to the
needs of others as we have ability to supply those needs.
Epaphroditus had a loving longing for the fellowship of the
brethren and sisters of the church at Philippi. The
scripture says, he longed after you all. This should also
be true of each of us that we have a longing for the
fellowship of God's children in the church. Often, I can
hardly wait until Sunday comes so that I can once again see
the dear saints of God and worship with them in spirit and
in truth. I long for their fellowship and for their
company. I would rather be where the saints gather together
than at a family reunion.
Epaphroditus had a great concern for the concerns of the brethren: and was full of heaviness, because that ye had
heard that he had been sick. His chief concern was not for
his own sickness, but it made him heavy that the brethren
were concerned for him in his sickness. He was heavy
hearted that they would worry too much about him. He did
not want them worrying too much about him. This is a great
show of love on the part of Epaphroditus.
Now, we look at the sickness of Epaphroditus. He was sick
nigh unto death. In other words, he almost died from his
sickness. While we are not told just what the sickness was,
we know the reason for his sickness: Because for the work
of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to
supply your lack of service toward me. This tells us that Epaphroditus was willing to die to serve the Lord and almost
died to perform that service. Surely, Epaphroditus is an
example for all of us to follow. We should all be willing
to die to perform the service of the Lord.
Additionally, it was an act of mercy from the Lord that God
delivered him from his sickness. This mercy was not just
toward Epaphroditus, but also toward Paul and toward the
church at Philippi: but God had mercy on him; and not on
him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon
sorrow. As a side note, this shows that the apostolic sign
gift was no longer present as Paul no longer had the ability
to lay his hands upon the brother and deliver him from his
sickness. This is a proof text that the apostolic sign
gifts were only for a relatively short period of time.
Finally, we should hold in reputation those who are faithful
to serve the Lord as Brother Epaphroditus was: Receive him
therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in