DAILY DEVOTIONAL, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2022

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APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot

But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need; (Philippians 2:25)

Paul now turns to Epaphroditus[1] who was from the church at Philippi. Epaphroditus shared Paul’s ministry (notice brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier) and represented the church. He was sent (πέμπω pempō) by the church to bring Paul the collection they had made, and to minister (literally – to provide priestly service) to his needs while in prison.

THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST by Stalker-1 The TRIAL and Death of Jesus_02 THE LIFE OF Paul by Stalker-1

Paul found it necessary to dispatch Epaphroditus with this letter to the believers due to the circumstances.  It was necessary on three fronts – Paul’s concern for the Philippian believers (v.28); Epaphroditus’ desire to see the Philippian church (v.26); and for the concern that the Philippian believers had for Epaphroditus (v.26).

THE LIFE OF Paul by Stalker-1 Paul PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL

More in-depth Insights

But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus. Epaphroditus is not widely known, mentioned only here in Philippians. (cf. 4:18) He is from Philippi and was a Christian in their congregation. He had been given the task of bringing relief to the apostle Paul while Paul was imprisoned in Rome, an 80-day journey on foot round trip. Before arriving in Rome, he would become very sick. It was not long before the brothers at Philippi received this news that Epaphroditus, who brought relief and comfort to Paul, was now comforted by Paul. One can imagine how this news was received by the brothers in Philippi, thinking that they and Epaphroditus only added one more burden on Paul. When Epaphroditus had recovered, which caused him to delay his efforts to help Paul, he traveled on to Rome. Epaphroditus felt extreme guilt as though he had failed in his mission from the Philippian congregation, having to let them down, so he grew depressed. Paul sent him home with the epistle. Paul dispelled any negative thoughts about Epaphroditus that those in Philippi might have had, commended him for his faithfulness and zeal.

My brother. Being referred to as Paul’s spiritual brother in the faith was an extremely affectionate expression and must have been greatly rewarding to Epaphroditus and the Philippians.

And fellow worker. There is the possibility that this expression meant that when Paul had founded the congregation in Philippi, Epaphroditus had labored with him to spread the good news. Yet, it is likely that the reference is to the same work of making disciples and that while in Rome, he had assisted Paul much after he had fallen ill on the way, still likely doing all he could do to help Paul while he was there. He was not there that long after his arrival.

And fellow-soldier. Christians and Christian ministers in the New Testament are often referred to as “fellow-soldiers” and “a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (Philem. 2; 2 Tim. 2:3-4) They were engaged in a war, battling the wicked, Satan, and those alienated from God to save souls. The Christian life is a life of spiritual warfare. Paul and his 100+ traveling companions, fellow workers, were also fellow soldiers. They were spiritual enemies to those that were in opposition to Christ. Epaphroditus was clearly worthy of being involved in this battle and the war of good versus evil.

The Epistle to the Hebrews PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL

And your messenger and minister to my need. Other men were also referred to as “apostles [messengers] of the churches” in the sense that they were sent forth by the churches as representatives of the congregation. (2Co 8:23) And, in this epistle to the Philippians, Paul speaks of Epaphroditus as “your messenger [envoy, apostle] (ἀπόστολος apostolos) and minister to my need.” However, the apostleship of these men was not in the normal sense of the term, as though they were like the twelve apostles, or Matthias, or even like Paul, Barnabas, Silvanus (Silas), and Timothy, apostles who had been chosen personally by Christ, the Holy Spirit, or the apostles themselves, to be witnesses of the life, the teachings, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Nor were they part of some apostolic succession. These were congregational apostleships.

[1]  See further George Author Buttrick, ed., The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, ed. George Author Buttrick, Vol. 2, 4 vols. (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1962). Page 107.

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