Sunday, January 8, 2017

Paul's Epistles – Philippians - Part 7: Timothy and Epaphroditus

Paul's Epistles – Philippians - Part 7:
Timothy and Epaphroditus
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |


Paul’s epistle (letter) to the Philippians is very important to the Gentiles. It was written to the first church founded in Europe (Acts 16:9-40).

Though not generally considered one of the most remarkable or deepest books of the bible, it is considered one of the sweetest of Paul’s writings.

It is more in the nature of a love letter to the Philippians, who had excelled all others in devoted attachment to Paul. Throughout this letter we get a glimpse into the apostle’s heart.

The Philippian church was noted for its generosity. It had repeatedly ministered to Paul (6:15 & 16).

Hearing Paul was imprisoned in Rome they sent help again by the hands of Epaphroditus (6:10 & 18), who, however, was struck down on his arrival by an almost fatal illness. Somehow news of this illness had reached Philippi, to their dismay, and on his recovery, Epaphroditus was anxious to reassure them in person (11:25-28), so Paul write this letter for him to take.

So this letter was written by Paul while in prison in Rome, and given to Epaphroditus to be taken back to the church in Philippi.

Paul focuses his letter on Church unity
He thanks God for all of them as one body
He tells them not to worry about his being in prison for it advances the gospel
Paul tells the believer to live a life “worthy” of the gospel
Paul says we must live imitating Christ and His humility

Paul wishes to send Timothy and also have Epaphroditus return to Philippi   

SCRIPTURE REFERENCE Philippians 2:19-30
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him,30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.

Paul opened his letter with a salutation to all, reminding the church they were not 2 factions, there was no “real” division, only a perceived one, created through sin.

The overall message of this epistle to the church is;
Christian unity to be maintained at all costs”.

a. That I may be cheered when I hear news about you
                                                                                                               i. Paul knew Timothy would give a report

                                                                                                            ii. Paul prayed it was a good one

                                                                                                         iii. He let them know ahead of time he was sending Timothy, this gave the church time to get over their division and get back to unity.

                                                                                                           iv. Paul stating he wanted to hear news that would cheer him was basically stating, “I hope you straighten yourselves out before Timothy gets there.”

b. I have no one else like him (eesposukus – Likeminded)
                                                                                                               i. In other words, Timothy is just like having me there
1. He will show you genuine concern for your welfare

                                                                                                            ii. Everyone looks out for themselves
1. This was the major issue with the Philippian church which caused the division

                                                                                                         iii. But not those of Jesus Christ
1. If someone is selfish, self-centered, not putting others above them, or others needs to grow in Christ above their personal needs, they are not walking in Christ.

2. Jesus made it clear, you cannot serve yourself and God

3. You can only have one master, is it “self” or God?

4. We are to live the love of Christ, which is I Corinthians 13, the “act” (not feeling or emotion), is putting others before yourself.

c. Timothy has proved himself
                                                                                                               i. Like a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel
                                                                                                            ii. Paul knew first-hand Timothy was the “real” deal

                                                                                                         iii. I hope to send him as soon as I see how things go here
1. Paul was waiting to see if they were going to continue to keep him locked up or release him, then he would send Timothy, his messenger.

2. Paul did get released a soon after this letter

a. My brother, my co-worker and fellow soldier
                                                                                                               i. Epaphroditus brought a love-offering to Paul from the Philippians to Rome

b. Who is also your messenger whom you sent to care for my needs
                                                                                                               i. Proverbs 13:17 “A wicked messenger falls into adversity, But a faithful envoy brings healing.”

                                                                                                            ii. Proverbs 25:13 “Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest Is a faithful messenger to those who send him, For he refreshes the soul of his masters.”

                                                                                                         iii. John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

c. However, he longs for you
                                                                                                               i. He was distressed because Philippi heard news of Epaphroditus taking ill

                                                                                                            ii. He almost died, and wanted to return home to those he loved

a. To spare me from sorrow upon sorrow

                                                                                                               i. Meaning if he would have died, it would have been a great loss to Paul, but also to the Kingdom of God because of Epaphroditus’ service to the Lord.

b. Therefore, I am eager to send him
                                                                                                               i. So when you see him you may be glad
1. It is insinuated that there was some problem with Epaphroditus in the Philippian church

2. We do not know what it is, but the church was in division and the problem with him was probably just as immature as the division itself.

3. Paul wanted them to rejoice in his healing from God

                                                                                                            ii. And I may have less anxiety
1. Paul gives approval of Epaphroditus’ service

2. And tells the church to receive him with gladness and honor

c. Welcome him in the Lord with great joy
                                                                                                               i. It is implied in verse 30 his illness may have been brought on by overwork

                                                                                                            ii. This may have been a result of him trying to “prove” himself worthy to the church for whatever reason

CONCLUSION – because he almost died for the work of christ

He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.

So then, honor people like him.

Isaiah 52:7
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

Romans 10:15
And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

Ephesians 6:15
and with your feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace.

Isaiah 61:1
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;

Matthew Henry Commentary
52:1-12 The gospel proclaims liberty to those bound with fears.

Let those weary and heavy laden under the burden of sin, find relief in Christ, shake themselves from the dust of their doubts and fears, and loose themselves from those bands. The price paid by the Redeemer for our salvation, was not silver or gold, or corruptible things, but his own precious blood.

Considering the freeness of this salvation, and how hurtful to temporal comfort sins are, we shall more value the redemption which is in Christ. Do we seek victory over every sin, recollecting that the glory of God requires holiness in every follower of Christ?

The good news is, that the Lord Jesus reigns. Christ himself brought these tidings first.

His ministers proclaim these good tidings: keeping themselves clean from the pollution's of the world, they are beautiful to those to whom they are sent.

Zion's watchmen could scarcely discern anything of God's favor through the dark cloud of their afflictions; but now the cloud is scattered, they shall plainly see the performance. Zion's waste places shall then rejoice; all the world will have the benefit. This is applied to our salvation by Christ.

Babylon is no place for Israelite's. And it is a call to all in the bondage of sin and Satan, to use the liberty Christ has proclaimed. They were to go with diligent haste, not to lose time nor linger; but they were not to go with distrustful haste.

Those in the way of duty, are under God's special protection; and he that believes this, will not hasten for fear.

Want to learn more about Salvation and Getting Saved?    CLICK HERE!

No comments: