Living Life with God's Irrepressible Joy
Ever heard the name Epaphroditus? Probably not. It’s not used much anymore; however, back in first century Philippi, Epaphroditus was a hero. We don’t know much about this little known hero; however, we do know that Paul gave him one of the highest commendations in his letter to the Philippians. Let’s see what the Apostle had to say about this warrior in the faith.
“I have 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 says that Epaphroditus was his brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier. That could probably be written on this guy’s epitaph! Not many people were given such a high introduction by Paul. But Epaphroditus, a man from the fledgling church at Philippi, is described for all of history as Paul’s brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier. What an honor!
But what did this man do to award him such high praise from the Apostle Paul? He risked his life for the gospel.
When the Philippians heard that Paul was in prison, they felt burdened to send their spiritual father a monetary gift to help him in his need and further his ministry. However, in that era, one couldn’t just send a money transfer through Walmart or wire money electronically to another person. The gift had to be hand delivered. And it wasn’t safe to let just anyone take the money to Rome; it had to be someone trusted, someone from the Philippian church who had a vested interested in seeing that the gift was safely delivered.
The trip from Philippi to Rome wasn’t an easy one. With over 700 miles to cover and the main mode of transportation was by foot, not many would volunteer for the task. However, one man did: Epaphroditus. He successfully made the dangerous journey to deliver the Philippians’ gift to Paul and to encourage him with the positive news of the Philippians’ growth in the faith. However, once in Rome with Paul, calamity struck. Epaphroditus became seriously ill. Paul tells us and the Philippians the outcome of that illness.
“For he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill.
Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also,
lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.”
God spared Epaphroditus’ life, because He wasn’t done with this faithful man. Epaphroditus had a story to share, a people to encourage, and a testimony to live out. If that illness had taken his life, we would not have his story and testimony of service and faithfulness.
So what can we learn from Epaphroditus? What take-a-ways can we glean from his testimony?
Epaphroditus was all in. He held nothing back. He did not consider the length and danger of the trip to Rome a deterrent to the job he had to do. His love for Paul and for the Philippians motivated him to risk his life to bring them encouragement and comfort. This godly Philippian gave everything he had to be a faithful minister and servant of the Lord. He thought not of himself, but always had the welfare and concern of others foremost in his mind.
Truly, Epaphroditus is an excellence example of humble service and faithful obedience. May we learn from his example. And when we come across men like him, may we remember Paul’s exhortation to receive them with joy and honor such men for their service.
“So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.”