Philippians 2:25-30

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015


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Philippians 2:25 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.

Epaphroditus has been a blessing to Paul as well as to the church in Philippi. He has delivered the Philippian believers' gift to Paul in Rome and has served Paul in Paul's imprisonment in Rome on behalf of the Philippian believers, and Paul is sending him back to Philippi with this letter.

Although Paul would like to come himself and although Paul would like to send Timothy, he believed it important to send Epaphroditus back to Philippi at this time along with this epistle. Yet introduces a statement in mild contrast, indicating a slight shift in Paul's thought. He switches from his discussion of sending Timothy to Philippi soon to his discussion of sending Epaphroditus immediately.

I supposed is I thought, I considered, or I regarded.

It necessary implies that Paul thought this to be something he really had to do. Actually, at the time of Paul's writing this letter to the saints in Philippi, he had not yet sent Epaphroditus. After he completed the letter, he dispatched Epaphroditus with it to Philippi. However, by the time the Philippian believers were able to read the letter, Epaphroditus would already be with them and Paul would have sent him in past time. Hence, Paul's action is put in past time. Paul sent Epaphroditus in the past as far as the reading of this epistle is concerned but not in the past as far as its writing is concerned.

What Paul regarded as being necessary was to send to you Epaphroditus. The only information given in the Scriptures regarding Epaphroditus is found in this passage in verses 25-30 and in Philippians 4:18 , which suggests that Epaphroditus is the messenger the believers in Philippi had used to send their gift to the Apostle Paul. Now Paul is sending him back with this thank you note, this letter to the saints in Philippi.

Philippians 4:18 - But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.

Paul describes Epaphroditus as my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

By Paul's calling him my brother, he is acknowledging that Epaphroditus is a fellow believer and member of the family of God along with himself.

Paul also refers to Epaphroditus as his companion in labour, which suggests my helper or my fellow worker in the proclamation of the gospel.

Paul also recognized Epaphroditus as his fellowsoldier, which means that Epaphroditus is a comrade in arms who had devoted himself to the service of the gospel along with the Apostle Paul.

But introduces a mild contrast. Paul has expressed his relationship to Epaphroditus as my brother, as my companion in labour, and as my fellowsoldier; but Epaphroditus also had a relationship to those in the church at Philippi who had sent him with their gift to the Apostle Paul, as your messenger.

Messenger is the word translated apostle in many contexts. Although Epaphroditus was not an apostle in the same sense that Paul was, he was an apostle of the believers in Philippi in that he had been sent by them on this mission to take their gift to Paul in Rome. Hence, messenger or apostle is used in the sense of delegate or envoy.

Epaphroditus is also described as he that ministered to my wants, literally the servant of my need or the servant of my necessity. When Epaphroditus arrived in Rome, Paul was in need; and Epaphroditus was a great help in meeting (or providing for) Paul's needs.

Wants is used in the sense of the things that the Apostle Paul lacked or the things he needed. It is not merely something that Paul desired but really could have lived without. It is things which he needed.

Philippians 2:26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.

Verse 26 continues the description of Epaphroditus and conveys some additional information about him to the Philippian believers.

For is understood in a causal sense as since or because.

He longed after is he was longing after, he was longing for, he was desiring, or he was yearning for.

What Epaphroditus longed after is you all, which refers to the entire group of believers at Philippi.

And He (i.e. Epaphroditus) was full of heaviness, i.e. he was in anxiety, he was distressed, or he was troubled. Its tense implies that this anxiety was occurring continuously or repeatedly, i.e. from time to time, over an extended period of time.

The reason Epaphroditus was in a state of heaviness or anxiety for a period of time is because that ye had heard that he had been sick.

Because that is for the reason that or in view of the fact that.

Ye had heard is simply you (Philippian believers) heard; but it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

What they had heard is that he had been sick, i.e. that he was sick, that he was weak, or that he was powerless. Perhaps it was a result of the difficulty of the journey from Philippi to Rome, or perhaps he had contracted some disease while serving the Lord as Paul's servant. In any event, Epaphroditus was very sick for a while.

Philippians 2:27 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.

For indeed may be understood as for certainly or for in fact.

He (i.e. Epaphroditus) was sick nigh unto death implies that Epaphroditus nearly died as a result of his sickness. The fact that Paul writes that he was sick implies that Epaphroditus was no longer sick and had since recovered.

Nigh unto death means coming near to death or near death and indicates that Epaphroditus had almost died.

But introduces a strong contrast to the fact that Epaphroditus had nearly died.

God intervened, and had mercy on him, meaning that God pitied Epaphroditus, God was merciful to Epaphroditus, God showed mercy to Epaphroditus, or God helped Epaphroditus out of pity.

And not on him only indicates that it was not only on Epaphroditus that God had mercy; whereas, but on me also indicates that God had mercy on Paul also. It would have been very difficult for Paul if Epaphroditus had died at this time. First of all, he would have felt badly because Epaphroditus had himself come on a mercy mission to Paul which would have cost Epaphroditus his life; and it would also have been a calamity for the saints at Philippi to have had Epaphroditus die as a result of the mission on which they had sent him. Paul did not wish this sort of grief for himself or for the believers at Philippi. Furthermore, the Apostle Paul needed Epaphroditus and probably did not have anyone else who could perform the function that Epaphroditus performed. Hence, it would have caused him great grief not to have had Epaphroditus there to assist him in his imprisonment.

Lest is understood in the sense of in order that (something) not (occur) or for the purpose that (something) not (happen).

Lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow suggests the reason God had mercy on Paul as well as on Epaphroditus. It was in order that I should not have sorrow upon sorrow or for the purpose that I not have sorrow upon sorrow. There is a limit to the sorrow believers can tolerate at any one time, and God has promised not to allow testings or trials to go beyond this limit. One is reminded of I Corinthians 10:13 .

I Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

The word rendered temptation in I Corinthians 10:13 may be understood, not only in the sense of a solicitation to commit sin, but also in the sense of a testing or trial; and the word translated tempted may likewise be understood as tested or tried. The implication of this passage is that God will only allow a temptation, a test, or a trial to go so far before He puts an end to it in order that the believer may be able to endure it. God knows the individual limitations of believers and does not subject them to temptations or trials that are beyond the ability they have at that time to endure. There is never any reason for a believer to panic.

By sorrow Paul means grief (or pain of mind or spirit) or affliction.

Sorrow upon sorrow suggests one grief after another or one affliction after another. God in His mercy spared Paul the grief of Ephroditus' dying.

Philippians 2:28 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.

Paul continues his discussion of Epaphroditus in verse 28 with I sent him therefore the more carefully.

I, i.e. the Apostle Paul, sent him indicates an activity which occurred in the past. It is understood from the viewpoint of the readers of this epistle. At the time Paul wrote this, Epaphroditus was still with him. However, by the time this epistle arrived at Philippi in Epaphroditus' hands, it was in the past that Paul had sent him. The tense of sent is used to indicate an action that occurred prior to the reading of this epistle rather than prior to its writing.

Therefore introduces an inference and is understood in the sense of for this reason, consequently, accordingly, or so.

The more carefully is with haste or with special urgency.

That when ye see him again is understood as in order that when you Philippian believers see Epaphroditus again.

Ye may rejoice is you may be glad.

Again may instead be understood with rejoice rather than with when ye see him in the sense of that you may rejoice again and imply that they were presently not rejoicing because they knew Epaphroditus had been ill as a result of this mission on which they had sent him and because they were saddened by his illness.

And that I may be the less sorrowful indicates a second reason the Apostle Paul sent Epaphroditus back to Philippi. Paul was sad that he had kept Epaphroditus with him as long as he had and that Epaphroditus was not able to go home sooner.

May be the less sorrowful is may be free from anxiety. Paul was greatly concerned for Epaphroditus and for his desire to go home as well as for the believers at Philippi, and he put his own desires in the background so that the desires of Epaphroditus and the Philippian believers might be met. He thereby looked not only on his own things but also on the things of Epaphroditus and the Philippian believers.

Philippians 2:29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation.

In verses 29-30 the Apostle Paul tells the Philippian believers how they should receive Epaphroditus back into their fellowship.

The present tense of receive him is understood in the sense of be receiving Epaphroditus or be welcoming Epaphroditus.

Therefore introduces an inference and means consequently, then, so, or accordingly.

In the Lord probably indicates as a Christian, as one who has been out serving the Lord.

With all gladness tells how they are to receive him back and means with all joy.

It is likely that this would happen anyhow because the Philippian believers undoubtedly had great confidence in Epaphroditus, or they would not have sent him to Paul in the first place. Therefore, they could be expected to be delighted when he returned to be with them.

And hold such in reputation. Hold implies that they are to be regarding him highly for what he has done.

Such implies such ones as these of whom Epaphroditus is only one example. Although such does not refer exclusively to Epaphroditus, it includes him. There are others who have likewise hazarded their lives in the service of the Lord, and the Philippian believers are to be holding all of them in reputation.

In reputation means that the Philippian believers were to be regarding people who had served the Lord and had placed themselves at His disposal with high esteem.

Philippians 2:30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.

As indicated by because, verse 30 provides the reason Epaphroditus should be regarded highly. How Epaphroditus became sick is not clear, but what was behind his sickness was his diligence in serving the Apostle Paul. It was not the result of sin. Perhaps his travel made him weak, or perhaps he contracted some malady; but by overworking himself, it apparently grew worse; and he nearly died as a result.

For the work of Christ is because of the work of Christ or for the sake of the work of Christ and implies that Epaphroditus had placed the work of Christ over his own health. Epaphroditus is not alone in this because many others in New Testament times as well as throughout the history of Christianity have likewise worked themselves to the point of being near death for the purpose of serving the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider that a husband or wife with a dying spouse might jeopardize his or her own health to take care of the dying spouse. Consider a mother or father looking after a very sick child, putting his or her health at risk for the sake of the child.

He was nigh unto death is he approached unto death or he came near unto death and means he nearly died.

Not regarding his life implies having no concern for his life.

To supply your lack of service toward me is in order that he might supply your lack of service toward me.

Supply means fill a gap, replace, make up for someone's absence, make up for someone's lack, or represent someone who is absent.

Your lack of service toward me is not implying that the Philippian believers were negligent in helping Paul. Philippi was a long way from Rome, and the distance hindered their ability to help. Other than pray for him, they could not help Paul in Philippi; so, they dispatched Epaphroditus from Philippi to Rome in order to help Paul temporarily.

Thus, your lack of service toward me implies your inability to provide service to me. It is not understood as an indication of any unwillingness on their part to help him.