Please Help Us Keep These Thousands of Blog Posts Growing and Free for All
since he has been longing for all of you and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. (Philippians 2:26)
Paul finds it necessary to send Epaphroditus back to Philippi because Epaphroditus has a deep desire to comfort his fellow believers in the church because they are concerned for him. The Greek word (ἀδημονέω adēmoneō) rendered distressed used here is the same word that was used with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. It can carry the meaning of a deep depression, anguish, or sorrow. As some have said, he was not homesick; he was in anguish because the Philippians had heard he had been sick. The word used here means feeble, weak, or diseased. Even though he had become very ill, he did not quit working and ministering as he had been sent to do.
More in-depth Insights
He has been longing for all of you. Epaphroditus wants to see the brothers back in Philippi to reduce their concern about his well-being. Think of how Epaphroditus must have felt. He was distressed because the brothers in Philippi had heard that he was sick. Epaphroditus was aware that the brothers had discovered that he had fallen ill and was very limited in carrying out his assignment of caring for Paul the way that they had hoped. He most likely felt that the brothers might be thinking that Epaphroditus had created more troubles for Paul. Was Luke, the physician, being called in to help Epaphroditus, removing him from other matters of responsibilities that he had. – Philippians 2:27-28; Colossians 4:14.
This would no doubt have caused Epaphroditus to become depressed. He may have thought the brothers back home felt that he was bungling his caring for Paul. Certainly, Epaphroditus was anxious to see them in person and clear up what had happened, assuring them that all was well. Likely, Paul saw the anxiousness in Epaphroditus to clear his good name, so he sent him back to the Philippians, with this epistle in hand, which clarified the sudden return of their messenger ([ἀπόστολος apostolos] envoy, apostle). Paul says, “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.” Paul was letting the Philippians know that the early return of Epaphroditus early was his idea, which would have dismissed any potential suggestion that Epaphroditus was unsuccessful. (2:25) What those brothers needed to understand was that Epaphroditus almost lost his life, making every effort to carry out what he was sent to do. Paul affectionately commends Epaphroditus, saying that the brothers should “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 soul to complete what was lacking in your service to me.” – Philippians 2:29-30.
 Greek word astheneo – W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996). Page 573