The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
February 5, 2012
1) Philippians 2:18-30 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
by Tom Edwards
In our last installment, we closed with Paul's being able to rejoice
in pouring out his life as a drink offering, metaphorically
speaking, in his service to the Philippians and his sharing that joy
with them all. He, therefore, continues that thought in
Philippians 2:18, by saying, "You too, I urge you, rejoice in the
same way and share your joy with me." For that is what Paul
wanted. Even if he would have to be literally sacrificed for
Christ, Paul could still rejoice -- and would want the brethren to
do so also, instead of mourning for him. One reason for that
can be seen in what he had expressed earlier, concerning his view
toward life and death, as brought out in Philippians 1:21: "For to
me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." The brethren
could, therefore, be glad for Paul's life; but they could also
rejoice in knowing that his death would lead him to something even
And not only is death set forth by the apostle Paul in a very
positive way with hope and joy of something better, but also by
God's perspective toward one who dies as a faithful believer.
For consider the following: "Precious in the sight of the Lord is
the death of His godly ones" (Psa. 116:15). That certainly is
a comforting thought for the righteous. Also, in Luke 16:22,
there is a point that might not often be emphasized in sermons when
considering in this chapter of the rich man and Lazarus. It
says, "Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried
away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died
and was buried." "Abraham's bosom" is symbolizing Paradise,
where the poor, beggar Lazarus was taken to. But notice again
how he was taken there: He was "carried away by the angels."
That makes sense, doesn't it? For how would one go about
transporting his own soul to Paradise? But as long as we are
striving to do God's will, we won't have to worry about that.
For the angels will then take us there, when that time comes.
For they are "...ministering spirits, sent out to render service for
the sake of those who will inherit salvation" (Heb. 1:14); and they
will also return with Jesus when He comes back on the last day, when
all the dead will be raised (Jn. 5:28,29), and when we who are
saints will meet the Lord in the air (cf. Mk. 8:38 with 1 Thess.
In Philippians 2:19, Paul then says, "But I hope in the Lord Jesus
to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged
when I learn of your condition."
As seen earlier, Timothy had been with Paul when the church in
Philippi was established with Lydia and her household, along with
the Philippian jailer and his household, as being the first converts
(Acts 16). So the Philippians knew Timothy well. Their
familiarity with him can also be inferred from Philippians 2:22,
when Paul says to the Philippians, "But you know of his proven
worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like
a child serving his father." That the Philippians would know
of Timothy's "proven worth" indicates that he had been with them for
some time. We also saw that Timothy, as well as Luke, had been
with Paul when he went to Rome as a prisoner, and spent two years
there. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon were
all written during that time; so they are sometimes referred to as
the Prison epistles; and Timothy is mentioned in all of these except
Ephesians (Phil. 1:1; 2:19; Col. 1:1; Philemon 1:1,2).
Timothy must have been a great service and comfort to Paul. In
writing his last epistle, notice what Paul says of him in 2 Timothy
4:9-13: "Make every effort to come to me soon; for Demas, having
loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica;
Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is
with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me
for service. But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When
you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the
books, especially the parchments."
That Paul hoped to soon send Timothy to the Philippians was to be a
two-fold mission. First, Timothy would be able to take a word
of encouragement to the Philippians and update them about the
apostle Paul; and, secondly, he would also be able to return to Paul
with a report of their condition.
This certainly wasn't the first time that Timothy was used in this
manner. On another occasion, Paul had sent Timothy from Athens
to the Thessalonians to bring them comfort and encouragement, during
their time of persecution; and to then report back to Paul, which,
in this case, included good news of their faith and love (1 Thess.
3:1-8). In 1 Corinthians 4:17, we also have the example of
Paul sending Timothy to Corinth to remind them of Paul's ways in
Christ, which he had taught everywhere in every church; and through
which they could be imitators of Paul, as he was of Jesus Christ (1
Cor. 4:16; 1 Cor. 11:1).
In speaking more about the goodness of Timothy, consider what Paul
says about him in Philippians 2:20,21: "For I have no one else of
kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your
welfare. For they all seek after their own interests,
not those of Christ Jesus." Paul refers to Timothy as
having been a "kindred spirit." Though we often think of the
term "kindred" as referring to one's relatives, it also has a third
meaning of "having the same belief, attitude, or feeling." It
would be this latter definition that best describes the relationship
between Paul and Timothy. In 2 Timothy 3:10,11, Paul commends
Timothy for having followed in Paul's "teaching, conduct, purpose,
faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and
sufferings...." So not only in the teaching, but also in
conduct and attitudes, there was a great similarity between Paul and
Timothy -- a "kindred spirit." Paul had the truth in his life,
which had changed his life for the better; and now that life was
also influencing Timothy even more in the right direction.
In Philippians 2:20,21, we need to keep in mind that Paul is
probably not comparing Timothy to all the brethren in the world; but
to only those who were with him in Rome at that time, when speaking
of having no one else of kindred spirit who would genuinely and
unselfishly be concerned for the Philippians. And it would
also seem that Mark, Luke, and Epaphroditus would have been away on
a mission at that time, so that they would not have been included in
Notice what Paul then writes in Philippians 2:23,24: "Therefore I
hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with
me; and I trust in the Lord that I myself also will be coming
The "him" whom Paul speaks of sending is Timothy, Paul's "true child
in the faith," as he refers to him in 1 Timothy 1:2. Paul was
waiting to first find out whether he would be released or not from
his house-arrest, which Timothy would then be able to inform
Paul closes this chapter with a heartfelt remark about Epaphroditus
in Philippians 2:25-30: "But I thought it necessary to send to you
Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who
is also your messenger and minister to my need; because he 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. Therefore I have sent him all the
more eagerly in order that when you see him again you may rejoice
and I may be less concerned about you. 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."
As mentioned, this man, who had been a messenger for the
Philippians, had traveled about 700 miles (over land and sea) in
order to bring support to the apostle Paul in his Roman
imprisonment. Epaphroditus had been near unto death, due to
sickness. There is no mentioned that Paul worked a miracle on
him to heal him; but the restoration of his health is attributed to
God who had mercy on him. This illustrates the fact that the
main purpose for miracles was to confirm God's word -- not merely to
make people well again or to have a supernatural power for one's
personal use (cf. Mk. 16:17-20 and Heb. 2:2-4). This can also
be inferred from 2 Timothy 4:20, in which Paul, who could work
miracles by the power of God, says, "...Trophimus I left sick at
Miletus." Why would Paul leave Trophimus sick, if Paul could
simply heal anyone he desired to see well again? And why would Paul
tell Timothy to, "No longer drink water exclusively, but use a
little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments"
(1 Tim. 5:23), instead of just healing him of that stomach problem
and frequent ailments? We know that Paul thought very dearly
of Timothy, as his own son in the faith. Surely, if Paul could have
healed on the basis of merely personal feelings, he would have
miraculously healed Timothy; but, instead, we see him prescribing a
natural remedy. The very fact that Paul recommended a
treatment for Timothy shows that Paul was concerned with Timothy
becoming well again; but there was no shortcut miracle performed on
him to quickly bring that about.
Paul also had some type of infirmity in his own life that he
initially wanted to be healed of and prayed about; but he
wasn't. He did, however, come to learn that his infirmity was
keeping him humble and that God's grace is sufficient, "for power is
perfected in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:7,9). Paul, therefore, could
then gladly boast in his weaknesses, that the power of Christ might
dwell in him. For Paul knew that when he was weak
(physically), he was strong (spiritually) (vv. 9,10). So from
this, we see that even infirmities can be used for our good.
Consider also Psalm 119:67 and 71: "Before I was afflicted I went
astray, But now I keep Thy word." "It is good for me
that I was afflicted, That I may learn Thy statutes." Solomon
writes about God that "Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He
gives grace to the afflicted" (Prov. 3:34). And would
not these "afflicted" be not just anyone in general; but, rather,
those who belong to God? So the point is that as a faithful
child of the Lord undergoing affliction, our greatest relief can be
in the grace of God and all which that involves in our personal
lives. If afflictions help us to trust more in the Lord then
they truly are for our good.
Let us also remind ourselves, just how close Paul must have felt
toward Epaphroditus. By the Lord having mercy on him and healing
him, Paul refers to it as God also showing mercy to him, and saving
him from the "sorrow upon sorrow" he would have had over
Epaphroditus' death. This indicates the "strong personal
affection" Paul had toward him; but even that in itself could
not authorize a miracle. So regardless of how good of a friend
the one with the gift of healing was toward the sick, miracles were
not performed unless it was truly what God wanted.
E. M. Zerr cites Epaphroditus as "a striking case of
unselfishness." For rather than being worried about himself --
even when near unto death -- he had, instead, been distressed over
the Philippians who had heard of his poor health; so he was worried
that they might be overly troubled about that. Philippians
2:26 is rendered in the KJV as, "For he longed after you all, and
was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been
sick." The ASV speaks of him as being "sore troubled,
because ye had heard that he was sick."
This feeling between the Philippians and Epaphroditus reminds us,
too, of 1 Corinthians 12:26, where Paul declares, "And if one
member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is
honored, all the members rejoice with it." Epaphroditus and
the Philippians had mutual feelings for each other.
We can also see an unselfishness in the apostle Paul with regard to
Epaphroditus, which can be inferred from Philippians 2:28, where
Paul states, "Therefore I have sent him all the more eagerly so that
when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned
about you." Paul was more concerned for the Philippians being
comforted by Epaphroditus than himself.
Paul refers to Epaphroditus as a "fellow worker and fellow soldier"
(Phil. 2:25). Why does the Bible use this term "soldier" in
referring to a Christian? J. W. Shepherd writes: "This shows
how full of danger the work of the gospel was at that time to those
who executed it faithfully; and that the sincere preachers of the
gospel, together with the martyrs who sealed it with their blood,
bring before us a noble army commanded by Christ, which was
successfully warring against infidelity and other powers of darkness
which were in opposition to God." And even when we are not
experiencing the intensity of that persecution the early Christians
did, we are still up against a spiritual battle between flesh and
spirit (Rom. 8:5-8). Paul had exhorted Timothy to "Suffer
hardship" with him "as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Tim. 2:3),
and Christians are shown in Ephesians 6 of the "full armor of God"
that is to be put on in order to withstand the enemy: And it is the
truth to gird our loins; righteousness for a breastplate; the gospel
of peace to shod our feet; faith for a shield to extinguish all the
flaming missiles of the evil one; salvation as a helmet; and the
word of God, which is "the sword of the Spirit" and also the one
that we are to wield.
Epaphroditus was a "messenger" of the Philippians.
Interestingly, though the Greek word for this is translated just
once as "messenger" and once as "messengers," its most common
rendering in the New Testament is "apostles" (52 times) -- and
also "apostle" (19), and possessively as "apostles'"
(5). For it is from the Greek word "apostolos." The literal
meaning of it is also used in John 13:16: "Truly, truly, I say to
you, a slave is not greater than his master; neither is ONE WHO IS
SENT greater than the one who sent him." The phrase "one who is
sent" is all from that one Greek word "apostolos."
Epaphroditus was also a "minister," which can refer to various kinds
of servants; and, therefore, should not be thought of as an
exclusive term for a preacher. Traveling about 700 miles to
bring support to Paul was just one of the ways in which Epaphroditus
had been a minister (or a servant). And that in itself
indicated courage. For not only were there possible dangers in
the journey; but also what about the arrival and being affiliated
with Paul at that time? Concerning this, William Barclay
states of Epaphroditus: "He was a brave man; for anyone who proposed
to offer himself as an attendant of a man waiting trial on a capital
charge was laying himself open to considerable risk of facing the
same charge." Could that have been the reason that some had
deserted Paul? As we saw earlier: "...all who are in Asia turned
away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes" (2 Tim.
1:15). But that wasn't the way of Epaphroditus. For he
was truly a good minister unto Paul, unto his brethren, and unto the
News & Notes
Let those of us who are Christians be praying for the following
* Anthony Webb Sr. who
though had lost some considerable weight due to thyroid trouble, has
been able to put some back on.
* Jean Calloway is still
recovering at home from her illness and the pain and swelling around
* Mike Dubose who is suffering
from cancer and receiving continual treatment for it.
* Mozelle Robertson (Ken's
mother) who is healing from wrist surgery.
* Clifton Trimble who has
not been well.
* Geneva Wilson who is weak
physically and housebound, but had to be admitted to the hospital
recently, due to a kidney infection, for which she received
* Shirley Young who
experiences fibromyalgia every day, and with some days more so than
* Cheryl Crews who has
chronic ailments and has also been experiencing nausea, due to some
of her medication.
* Anthony Webb and Andrew Robertson who are
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in
Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
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