13th September 2018

Philippians: Week 6 (Thursday, September 13 2018)


Chapter 2: 17-30


The plan to send Timothy 2:19-24

v19 If the Lord wishes, I hope to send Timothy to you soon. News about you will cheer me up. v20 He is the only person who shares my feelings. He really cares about you. v21 All the other people think about their own benefit and not about what Jesus Christ wants. v22 But you yourselves know that Timothy has proved his value. He has served me like a son as he has helped to spread the gospel. v23 So I hope to send him to you. But I want to know first what is going to happen to me. I hope to send him to you as soon as I know that. v24 And, if the Lord desires it, I myself shall come to you soon. I am confident about that.


Verse 19 Paul was eager to hear news about the Christians at Philippi. He intended to send Timothy. And if Timothy brought news back, that would cheer him up.

Verse 20 Timothy was the only person who shared Paul’s care about their spiritual health.

Verse 21 By ‘all the other people’, Paul may mean those who were selfish. Or he may mean those who were preaching for the wrong reasons (1:15-17). There may have been nobody else with the right qualities to carry out such a task. Paul would need to find out whether the Christians at Philippi were growing in their faith. If necessary, his messenger must give them help. He must show genuine sympathy. And he must make sure that he did not hurt their feelings by his questions and advice. Paul may have had doubts about how loyally some Christians would carry out his wishes. We know that Demas left him (2 Timothy 4:10).

Verse 22 The Christians at Philippi knew how Timothy had proved his value. He was with Paul on his first visit to Philippi. And he had worked with him in Thessalonica and in Berea (Acts 16:1-17:14). He had been with him in Corinth (Acts 18:5) and in Ephesus (Acts 19:21-22). Timothy had visited Philippi on more than one occasion (Acts 19:21-22; 20:3-6). He had helped Paul to spread the gospel as a son helps his father. Timothy was the spiritual child of Paul (1 Timothy 1:2). That is, Paul had told him the gospel. Both Paul and Timothy were servants of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:1).

Verse 23 Paul did not know if he would go free. Or if he would have to die. He hoped to send Timothy as soon as he did know.

Verse 24 But, if it was the Lord’s desire, he would soon be able to visit them himself. He was confident about that.


The return of Epaphroditus 2:25-30

v25 But I thought that it was necessary to send back our brother Epaphroditus to you. He has worked and fought by my side. He has brought me your messages. He has helped me on your behalf. v26 He is eager to see you all. He is very upset because of what you heard about him. You heard that he had been ill. v27 In fact he was so ill that he nearly died. But God had pity on him. God had pity on me as well so that I should not have one sad experience after another. v28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him back to you. You will be glad to see him again. That will make me happy too, and I shall stop worrying. v29 Welcome him with joy as a brother in the Lord. Give honour to Christians like him. v30 He almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life in order to give me help. He gave me the help that you yourselves could not give me.


Verse 25 The Christians at Philippi had sent Epaphroditus with gifts to Paul. He had also helped Paul on their behalf. He had offered a holy service to God (Philippians 4:18). Epaphroditus was a ‘brother’ in the Christian faith. He had worked with Paul in the service of the gospel. He had fought hard like a soldier. Perhaps Paul was thinking about the soldiers who were guarding him in prison. To speak for Jesus Christ could be as dangerous as to fight in a battle. Christians had many enemies: those who worshipped the emperor, false teachers and all the evil beings.

Verse 26 Epaphroditus had been extremely ill. When the Christians at Philippi heard about his illness, they were worried. Epaphroditus heard that they were worried. He was very upset when he heard that. He was far from home and perhaps eager to help in his own church again.

Verse 27 Epaphroditus was so ill that he almost died. But God helped him to recover; whether by medical help or prayer or both we do not know. God pitied Paul as well. So Paul did not have the sad experience of Epaphroditus’s death as well as his illness.

Verse 28 Paul had decided to send Epaphroditus back home. And Epaphroditus was probably taking this letter with him. It was a sacrifice for Paul to lose his help. But he wanted the Christians at Philippi to have the joy of seeing Epaphroditus again and in good health. Paul had ‘sent’ him. Epaphroditus had not left Paul because he had grown tired of helping him. And Paul did not want the Christians at Philippi to think that he had left him for that reason. Paul would be glad that the Christians at Philippi would no longer worry. They will have the help of Epaphroditus again.

Verse 29 They must welcome Epaphroditus with ‘joy as a brother in the Lord’. Both he and the Christians at Philippi belong to the Lord. He is their Christian ‘brother’. ‘In the Lord’ can also mean this: They should welcome Epaphroditus as Christ himself would receive him. ‘Accept each other … as Christ has accepted you’ (Romans 15:7).

Verses 29, 30 Epaphroditus and people like him should receive the honour that they deserved. He had almost died as he worked for Christ. He had risked his life like a man who plays a game of chance for money. He had been in danger because he was helping Paul. The emperor was going be Paul’s judge. Epaphroditus had continued his work even when he was already ill. Paul was grateful for the help of Epaphroditus. He knew that the Christians at Philippi themselves could not help him. That was because they were too far away.

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