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.
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(25) Epaphroditus.—The name was often shortened into Epaphras. But it was a common name; hence any identification with the Epaphras of Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:12; Philemon 1:23, is, to say the least, extremely precarious. It is hardly likely that one who was a native Colossian would be a resident and chosen messenger of Philippi. The three titles here given him are closely joined together in the original, and form a kind of climax—“brother” in a common Christianity, “fellow-worker” in the service of Christ, “fellow-soldier” in the “hardness” of daring and suffering, which the warfare of the Cross implies. (See 2Timothy 2:3-4.)

Your messenger.—The original word is apostle; and by some interpreters, ancient and modern, it has been thought that it is intended here to designate the chief pastor—or, in the modern sense, the bishop—of the Philippian Church (as probably is the case with the “angels” of the churches in the Apocalypse); and the word “your” is then explained in the same sense as the words “of the Gentiles” in Romans 11:13. But this is very unlikely, (1) because there seems to be no example to confirm the statement that the chief pastor of a church was ever called its “apostle;” (2) because the character of the apostolate, being general and evangelistic, was very different from that of the local and pastoral episcopate; (3) because in this passage the word is inseparably connected with the following “and minister to my needs,” showing the latter phrase to be explanatory of the previous word; (4) because the style of commendation in Philippians 2:29 is hardly suitable as applied to one whose office alone should have commanded respect. Our version is, therefore, correct in rendering it “messenger,” just as in 2Corinthians 8:23 (“the messengers of the churches”), where there is a similar reference to the transmission of alms.



Php 2:25-30 {R.V.}.

Epaphroditus is one of the less known of Paul’s friends. All our information about him is contained in this context, and in a brief reference in Chapter 4: His was a singular fate--to cross Paul’s path, and for one short period of his life to be known to all the world, and for all the rest before and after to be utterly unknown. The ship sails across the track of the moonlight, and then vanishes ghost-like into darkness. Of all the inhabitants of Philippi at that time we know the names of but three, Euodias, Syntiche, and Epaphroditus, and we owe them all to Paul. The context gives us an interesting miniature of the last, and pathetic glimpses into the private life of the Apostle in his imprisonment, and it is worth our while to try to bring our historic imagination to bear on Epaphroditus, and to make him a living man.

The first fact about him is, that he was one of the Philippian Christians, and sent by them to Rome, with some pecuniary or material help, such as comforts for Paul’s prison-house, food, clothing, or money. There was no reliable way of getting these to Paul but to take them, and so Epaphroditus faced the long journey across Greece to Brindisi and Rome, and when arrived there threw himself with ardour into serving Paul. The Apostle’s heartfelt eulogium upon him shows two phases of his work. He was in the first place Paul’s helper in the Gospel, and his faithfulness there is set forth in a glowing climax, ‘My brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier.’ He was in the second place the minister to Paul’s needs. There would be many ways of serving the captive, looking after his comfort, doing his errands, procuring daily necessaries, managing affairs, perhaps writing his letters, easing his chain, chafing his aching wrists, and ministering in a thousand ways which we cannot and need not specify. At all events he gladly undertook even servile work for love of Paul.

He had an illness which was probably the consequence of his toil. Perhaps over-exertion in travel, or perhaps his Macedonian constitution could not bear the enervating air of Rome, or perhaps Paul’s prison was unhealthy. At any rate he worked till he made himself ill. The news reached Philippi in some round-about way, and, as it appears, the news of his illness only, not of his recovery. The difficulty of communication would sufficiently account for the partial intelligence. Then the report found its way back to Rome, and Epaphroditus got home-sick and was restless, uneasy, ‘sore troubled,’ as the Apostle says, because they had heard he had been sick. In his low, nervous state, barely convalescent, the thought of home and of his brethren’s anxiety about him was too much for him. It is a pathetic little picture of the Macedonian stranger in the great city--pallid looks, recent illness, and pining for home and a breath of pure mountain air, and for the friends he had left. So Paul with rare abnegation sent him away at once, though Timothy was to follow shortly, and accompanied him with this outpouring of love and praise in his long homeward journey. Let us hope he got safe back to his friends, and as Paul bade them, they received him in the Lord with all joy, the echoes of which we almost hear as he passes out of our knowledge.

In the remainder of this sermon we shall simply deal with the two figures which the text sets before us, and we may look first at the glimpses of Paul’s character which we get here.

We may note the generous heartiness of his praise in his associating Epaphroditus with himself as on full terms of equality, as worker and soldier, and the warm generosity of the recognition of all that he had done for the Apostle’s comfort. Paul’s first burst of gratitude and praise does not exhaust all that he has to say about Epaphroditus. He comes back to the theme in the last words of the context, where he says that the Philippian messenger had ‘hazarded’ his life, or, as we might put it with equal accuracy and more force, had ‘gambled’ his life, or ‘staked it on the die’ for Paul’s sake. No wonder that men were eager to risk their lives for a leader who lavished such praise and such love upon them. A man who never opens his lips but to censure or criticise, who fastens on faults as wasps do on blemished fruit, will never be surrounded by loyal love. Faithful service is most surely bought by hearty praise. A caressing hand on a horse’s neck is better than a whip.

We may further note the intensity of Paul’s sympathy. He speaks of Epaphroditus’ recovery as a mercy to himself ‘lest he should have the sorrow of imprisonment increased by the sorrow of his friend’s death.’ That attitude of mind stands in striking contrast to the heroism which said, ‘To me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,’ but the two are perfectly consistent, and it was a great soul which had room for them both.

We must not leave unnoticed the beautiful self-abnegation which sends off Epaphroditus as soon as he was well enough to travel, as a gift of the Apostle’s love, in order to repay them for what they had done for him. He says nothing of his own loss or of how much more lonely he would be when the brother whom he had praised so warmly had left him alone. But he suns himself in the thought of the Philippians’ joy, and in the hope that some reflection of it will travel across the seas to him, and make him, if not wholly glad, at any rate ‘the less sorrowful.’

We have also to notice Paul’s delicate recognition of all friendly help. He says that Epaphroditus risked his life to ‘supply that which was lacking in your service toward me.’ That implies that all which the Philippians’ ministration lacked was their personal presence, and that Epaphroditus, in supplying that, made his work in a real sense theirs. All the loving thoughts, and all the material expressions of them which Epaphroditus brought to Paul were fragrant with the perfume of the Philippians’ love, ‘an odour of a sweet smell, acceptable’ to Paul as to Paul’s Lord.

We briefly note some general lessons which may be suggested by the picture of Epaphroditus as he stands by the side of Paul.

The first one suggested is the very familiar one of the great uniting principle which a common faith in Christ brought into action. Think of the profound clefts of separation between the Macedonian and the Jew, the antipathies of race, the differences of language, the dissimilarities of manner, and then think of what an unheard-of new thing it must have been that a Macedonian should ‘serve’ a Jew! We but feebly echo Paul’s rapture when he thought that there was ‘neither Barbarian or Scythian, bond or free, but all were one in Christ Jesus,’ and for all our talk about the unity of humanity and the like, we permit the old gulfs of separation to gape as deeply as ever. Dreadnoughts are a peculiar expression of the brotherhood of men after nineteen centuries of so-called Christianity.

The terms in which the work of Epaphroditus is spoken of by Paul are very significant. He has no hesitation in describing the work done for himself as ‘the work of Christ,’ nor in using, as the name for it, the word {‘service’}, which properly refers to the service rendered by priestly hands. Work done for Paul was done for Jesus, and that, not because of any special apostolic closeness of relation of Paul to Jesus, but because, like all other Christians, he was one with his Lord. ‘The cup of cold water’ given ‘in the name of a disciple’ is grateful to the lips of the Master. We have no reason to suppose that Epaphroditus took part with Paul in his more properly apostolic work, and the fact that the purely material help, and pecuniary service which most probably comprised all his ‘ministering,’ is honoured by Paul with these lofty designations, carries with it large lessons as to the sanctity of common life. All deeds done from the same motive are the same, however different they may be in regard to the material on which they are wrought. If our hearts are set to ‘hallow all we find,’ the most secular duties will be acts of worship. It is possible for us in the ordering of our own lives to fulfil the great prophecy with which Zechariah crowned his vision of the Future, ‘In that day shall there be on the bells of the horses Holiness unto the Lord’; and the ‘pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar.’

May we not further draw from Paul’s words here a lesson as to the honour due to Christian workers? It was his brethren who were exhorted to receive their own messenger back again ‘in the Lord with all joy, and to hold him in honour.’ Possibly there were in Philippi some sharp tongues and envious spirits, who needed the exhortation. Whether there were so or no, the exhortation itself traces lightly but surely the lines on which Christians should render, and their fellow-Christians can rightly receive, even praise from men. If Epaphroditus were ‘received in the Lord,’ there would be no foolish and hurtful adulation of him, nor prostration before him, but he would be recognised as but the instrument through which the true Helper worked, and not he, but the Grace of Christ in him would finally receive the praise. There are very many Christian workers who never get their due of recognition and welcome from their brethren, and there are many who get far more of both than belongs to them, and both they and the crowds who bring them adulation would be freed from dangers, which can scarcely be over-stated, if the spirit of Paul’s warm-hearted praise of Epaphroditus were kept in view.

Epaphroditus but passes across the illuminated disc of the lantern for a moment, and we have scarcely time to catch a glimpse of his face before it is lost to us. He and all his brethren are gone, but his name lives for ever, and Paul’s praise of him and of his work outshines all else remembered of the city, where conquerors once reigned, and outside whose walls was fought a battle that decided for a time the fate of the world.

Php 2:25-27. Yet I supposed it necessary to send Epaphroditus — Back immediately, who is near and dear to me as a brother and companion in labour — A fellow-labourer in the work of the Lord; and fellow-soldier — “So he seems to call him, to show how full of danger the work of the gospel was in that age, to those who executed it faithfully; and that the sincere preachers of it, together with the martyrs who sealed it with their blood, formed a noble army commanded by Christ, which was successfully warring against idolaters, and the other powers of darkness who were in opposition to God.” But your messenger — The Philippians had sent him to Paul with their liberal contributions. For he longed after you all — Namely, to be with you again, and further useful to your souls; and was full of heaviness, because he supposed you would be afflicted at hearing that he was sick — As he could not but know how affectionately you love him. He was nigh unto death — In all human appearance; but God had mercy on him — Restoring him to health; and on me — To whom his death would have been a great affliction; lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow — Lest the sorrows of my imprisonment and my other troubles should be increased by the addition of my grief for his death. Doubtless the apostle had prayed for his recovery, and probably it was in answer to his prayers that Epaphroditus had been restored. We see, however, in this instance, as we may see in many others recorded in the New Testament, that those who, in the apostolic age, possessed the power of working miracles, could not exercise it according to their own pleasure, but according to the direction of the Holy Ghost: otherwise St. Paul would most certainly have healed Epaphroditus, who, as is insinuated Php 2:30, had fallen into this dangerous sickness through the fatigue which he underwent in assisting the apostle. Miracles of healing were generally wrought for convincing unbelievers.

2:19-30 It is best with us, when our duty becomes natural to us. Naturally, that is, sincerely, and not in pretence only; with a willing heart and upright views. We are apt to prefer our own credit, ease, and safety, before truth, holiness, and duty; but Timothy did not so. Paul desired liberty, not that he might take pleasure, but that he might do good. Epaphroditus was willing to go to the Philippians, that he might be comforted with those who had sorrowed for him when he was sick. It seems, his illness was caused by the work of God. The apostle urges them to love him the more on that account. It is doubly pleasant to have our mercies restored by God, after great danger of their removal; and this should make them more valued. What is given in answer to prayer, should be received with great thankfulness and joy.Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus - Epaphroditus is nowhere else mentioned but in this Epistle; see Philippians 4:18. All that is known of him, therefore, is what is mentioned here. He was from Philippi, and was a member of the church there. He had been employed by the Philippians to carry relief to Paul when he was in Rome Philippians 4:18, and while in Rome he was taken dangerously sick. News of this had been conveyed to Philippi, and again intelligence had been brought to him that they had heard of his sickness and that they were much affected by it. On his recovery, Paul thought it best that he should return at once to Philippi, and doubtless sent this Epistle by him. He is much commended by Paul for his faithfulness and zeal.

My brother - In the gospel; or brother Christian. These expressions of affectionate regard must have been highly gratifying to the Philippians.

And companion in labour - It is not impossible that he may have labored with Paul in the gospel, at Philippi; but more probably the sense is, that he regarded him as engaged in the same great work that he was. It is not probable that he assisted Paul much in Rome, as he appears to have been sick during a considerable part of the time he was there.

And fellow-soldier - Christians and Christian ministers are compared with soldiers Plm 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:3-4, because of the nature of the service in which they are engaged. The Christian life is a warfare; there are many foes to be overcome; the period which they are to serve is fixed by the Great Captain of salvation, and they will soon be permitted to enjoy the triumphs of victory. Paul regarded himself as enlisted to make war on all the spiritual enemies of the Redeemer, and he esteemed Epaphroditus as one who had shown that he was worthy to be engaged in so good a cause.

But your messenger - Sent to convey supplies to Paul; Philippians 4:18. The original is, "your apostle" - ὑμῶν δὲ ἀπόστολον humōn de apostolon - and some have proposed to take this literally, meaning that he was the apostle of the church at Philippi, or that he was their bishop. The advocates for Episcopacy have been the rather inclined to this, because in Philippians 1:1, there are but two orders of ministers mentioned - "bishops and deacons" - from which they have supposed that "the bishop" might have been absent, and that "the bishop" was probably this Epaphroditus. But against this supposition the objections are obvious:

(1) The word ἀπόστολος apostolos; means properly one sent forth, a messenger, and it is uniformly used in this sense unless there is something in the connection to limit it to an "apostle," technically so called.

(2) the supposition that it here means a messenger meets all the circumstances of the case, and describes exactly what Epaphroditus did. He was in fact sent as a messenger to Paul; Philippians 4:18.

(3) he was not an apostle in the proper sense of the term - the apostles having been chosen to be witnesses of the life, the teachings, the death, and the resurrection of the Saviour; see Acts 1:22; compare the notes, 1 Corinthians 9:1.

(4) if he had been an apostle, it is altogether improbable that he would have seen sent on an errand comparatively so humble as that of carrying supplies to Paul. Was there no one else who could do this without sending their bishop? Would a diocese be likely to employ a "bishop" for such a purpose now?

And he that ministered to my wants - Philippians 4:18.

25. I supposed—"I thought it necessary."

to send—It was properly a sending Epaphroditus back (Php 4:18). But as he had come intending to stay some time with Paul, the latter uses the word "send" (compare Php 2:30).

fellow soldier—in the "good fight" of faith (Php 1:27, 30; 2Ti 2:3; 4:7).

your messenger—literally, "apostle." The "apostles" or "messengers of the churches" (Ro 16:7; 2Co 8:23), were distinct from the "apostles" specially commissioned by Christ, as the Twelve and Paul.

ministered to my wants—by conveying the contributions from Philippi. The Greek "leitourgon," literally, implies ministering in the ministerial office. Probably Epaphroditus was a presbyter or else a deacon.

Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus; in the mean time he gives them an account why he esteemed it needful to send back Epaphroditus (whom some, but without sufficient warrant, would have to be the same with Epaphras, Colossians 1:7 4:12 Philemon 1:23) unto them, not as if he had failed in doing what he was intrusted with, but for other weighty reasons.

My brother and companion in labour; he would have them to know he had nothing to blame him for, but all in his commendation, whom in the common faith he owned to be his Christian brother, and fellow helper, or fellow worker in the business of the gospel, as he calls others in the like circumstances, Romans 16:3,21 2 Corinthians 8:23 Colossians 4:11 1 Thessalonians 3:2 Philemon 1:24.

And fellow soldier; and a faithful and a constant associate with him in the Christian warfare, 2 Corinthians 10:4 1 Timothy 1:18 Philemon 1:2, under Christ their Captain, against all the assaults of the devil, and the carnal world, which are continually warring to destroy real Christianity.

But your messenger; but your apostle, which must be understood largely, as it is sometimes put for any evangelist, deacon, or minister of the gospel, Romans 16:7,9, well rendered by us in this place messenger, compared with Philippians 4:18 2 Corinthians 8:22,23; not being a special apostle of Christ, Matthew 10:2, but an officer of the church at Philippi, delegated by them to carry relief to Paul.

And he that ministered to my wants; unto whom, it seems, he did not only deliver the present for his support according to his trust and commission, wherein he faithfully served the church, but also, as their public minister, greatly help Paul the prisoner in what he stood most in need of, which Paul could not but value, being the Romans were so mild as to permit him, a captive, so good attendance and assistance; yet, to declare his affections to the church at Philippi, he chose rather to deny himself his necessaries, than not to comfort them in remitting their faithful messenger, so greatly desiring their welfare, with this letter to them.

Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus,.... In the mean while, before either he or Timothy could come to them. This man was sent by the Philippians to the apostle with a present, and had been detained at Rome for some time, partly through business, and partly through sickness; but now the apostle thought it proper, he being recovered, to send him to them, who was one of their ministers. One of this name lived at Rome about this time, and was one of Nero's freemen (o), but not the same person here intended. This person has a very high character. The apostle calls him,

my brother; not in a natural relation, or as being his countryman, and so according to a way of speaking with the Jews, and himself, his brother and kinsman according to the flesh; for by his name and country he seems to be a Greek; but in a spiritual relation, being born again of the same Father, belonging to the same household and family, and also a brother in the ministry, as it follows:

and companion in labour; in the laborious work of preaching the Gospel. The ministry of the word is a work; it is called the work of the ministry; and it is a laborious one when diligently and faithfully performed: the apostle was a workman that needed not to be ashamed, a labourer in Christ's vineyard, and one that laboured more abundantly than others; and he was not alone, he had companions in his work, and this good man was one of them: he adds,

and fellow soldier; the life of every believer is a warfare; he is always engaged in a war with sin, and Satan, and the world; and is often called to fight the fight of faith, to contend earnestly against false teachers for the faith once delivered to the saints, to stand up for it, and fast in it; and is provided for with the whole armour of God, with weapons of warfare, which are not carnal, but spiritual and mighty, being enlisted as a volunteer under the great Captain of his salvation, Jesus Christ, under whose banner he fights, and is more than a conqueror through him: but though this is the common case and character of all the saints, it more especially belongs to ministers of the Gospel; who are set for the defence of it, and at the front of the battle, and are called to meet the enemy at the gate, and endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ; and such an one was the apostle; and he had other fellow soldiers, and this person among the rest, who were engaged in the same common cause with the same enemies, under the same Captain, and would enjoy the same crown:

but your messenger; or "apostle"; meaning either that he was the pastor of them, a preacher to them, a minister among them; for ordinary ministers of the word were sometimes called apostles, as well as extraordinary ones, see Romans 16:7; or rather, that he was their messenger to him, to relieve, comfort, and assist him in his bonds; and such persons were called the messengers of the churches, 2 Corinthians 8:23, which sense is strengthened by what follows:

and he that ministered to my wants: to his personal wants in prison, and to the wants of the poor saints, which the apostle reckoned as his own, and which he used to supply; but now not able; and to his ministerial wants, filling up his place in preaching the Gospel to the saints at Rome,

(o) Artinn. Epictet. l. 1. c. 1, 19, 26. & Aurel. Victor. Epitome Rom. Imp. in Nerone.

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.
Php 2:25 f. About Epaphroditus; the sending him home, and recommendation of him, down to Php 2:30.

ἀναγκ. δὲ ἡγ.] I have, however, judged it necessary, although. Epaphroditus, namely, according to Php 2:19-24, might have remained here still, in order to have made his return-journey to you later, either in company with Timothy, or eventually with myself. For the special reason, which Paul had for not keeping him longer with himself in Rome, see Php 2:26; Php 2:28.

Ἐπαφρόδιτον] otherwise not further known. The name (signifying Venustus) was a common one (Tac. Ann. xv. 55; Suet. Domit. 14; Joseph. Vit. 76; Wetstein in loc.), also written Ἐπαφρόδειτος (Boeckh, Corp. inscr. 1811, 2562); but to regard the man as identical with Ἐπαφρᾶς (Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:12; Philemon 1:23) (Grotius, Paulus, and others) is all the more arbitrary, since Epaphras was a Colossian teacher.

The grouping together of five predicates which follows, has arisen out of loving and grateful regard for Epaphroditus, as an honourable testimony to him in his relation to the apostle as well as to the church.

ἀδελφ., συνεργ., συστρατ.] a climactic threefold description of companionship, advancing from the most general category, that of Christian brotherhood (ἀδελφός), to a twofold more special relation. On συστρατ., which sets forth the joint working (συνεργ.) in relation to the hostile powers, comp. Philemon 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:3.

ὑμῶν δὲ ἀπόστ. κ. λειτουργ. τ. χρ. μου.] still belonging to τόν; hence ὑμῶν, placed in contrast to the μου, belongs to λειτουργ. τ. χ. μ. as well (in opposition to de Wette and others). Ἀπόστολος here means delegate (2 Corinthians 8:23), and not apostle (Vulgate, Hilarius, Theodoret, Luther, Erasmus, Calovius, Wetstein: “mei muneris vicarium apud vos,” am Ende, and others), which would necessitate the genitive ὑμῶν being taken as in Romans 11:13, against which the context, by the union with λειτουργ. τ. χ. μ., is decisive; as, indeed, Paul uses ἀπόστ. as an official designation only in the sense of the actual apostolic rank, based upon a direct call by Christ, in its narrower and wider reference (comp. on Galatians 1:19; Romans 16:7; 1 Corinthians 15:7), and hence there is no necessity to seek even an allusion to his “quasi”-apostolic position towards the Philippians (Matthies).

κ. λειτουργ. τ. χ. μ.] the sacrificial minister of my need, ὡς τὰ παρʼ αὐτῶν ἀποσταλέντα κομίσαντα χρήματα, Theodoret. By sending aid they had cared for the apostle’s need (Php 4:16); and that gift of love being regarded as a sacrifice offered to God, Epaphroditus, who had been entrusted by them with the conveying of it, was the λειτουργός in the matter, that is, he who performed the priestly service in the bringing of this offering (comp. Php 2:17). Such is also the conception in 2 Corinthians 9:12. On τῆς χρείας μ. comp. Php 4:16; Romans 12:13.

πέμψαι] as also in Greek authors frequently, in the sense of dimittere domum, to send home,[140] consequently equivalent to ἀποπέμπειν or ἀναπέμπειν (Philemon 1:12); Xen. Hell. ii. 7. 9; Sop. O. R. 1518; Polyb. v. 100. 10; and frequently in Homer. See especially Od. xv. 74: χρῆ ξεῖνον παρεόντα φιλεῖν, ἐθέλοντα δὲ πέμπειν.

[140] That Paul, however, here writes πέμψαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς, and, on the other hand, π. ὑμῖν in ver. 19, is an accidental and undesigned variation. Hofmann thinks that by π. ὑμῖν is meant the sending of a representative of the apostle to the Church, and by π. πρὸς ὑμᾶς the sending of a representative of the Church to the apostle. This distinction is involved in the state of the case, but has nothing to do with the difference between the ὑμῖν and πρὸς ὑμᾶς. Comp. 1 Corinthians 4:17; Ephesians 6:22; Colossians 4:8; Titus 3:12; 2 Corinthians 12:17.


25. Yet I supposed] Better, But I have counted, or, I count.—“Yet” is too strong a word of contrast or exception.

“I have counted”:—the Greek verb is an aorist, but an “epistolary’ aorist, in which the writer of a letter puts himself mentally at the time of its reception. And this we often express in English by the perfect or the present.—Epaphroditus was probably the bearer of the Epistle.

necessary] as against the less obligatory conditions of Timothy’s intended mission. That concerned St Paul’s comfort, this, the Philippians’; and in his view, on Christian principles, the latter was of course more urgent.—For the phrase cp. 2 Corinthians 9:5.

Epaphroditus] We know him only from this Epistle, indeed only from this passage, for the mention Php 4:18 merely adds the fact that he was the conveyer to St Paul of the Philippians’ present. But the few lines now before us are enough to shew us a Christian full of spiritual love and practical devotion to Christ and the flock.—Epaphroditus has been identified with Epaphras (Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:12; Philemon 1:23). But this is improbable. The shorter name is indeed only an abbreviation of the longer; but “Epaphras” always denotes the convert and missionary of Colossæ, “Epaphroditus” the messenger from Philippi, two widely separated mission-stations. And the man in each case appears to be a native of, or resident in, the station. Both names were very common at the time.—It is observable that this Christian’s name embodies the name of the goddess Aphrodité. No scruple appears to have been felt among the primitive Christians about the retention of such pre-baptismal names. See note on Romans 16:1 in this Series.

my brother, &c.] The loving commendation is most emphatic. Epaphroditus had evidently at some time toiled and striven “in the Gospel,” along with St Paul, in no common way. This may have been in past days at Philippi, or, as Lightfoot suggests, just recently at Rome, since his arrival from Philippi.—“Fellow-soldier”:—cp. Philemon 1:2, and see 2 Corinthians 10:3; 1 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 2:3-4. The Christian “worker” is a “soldier” as having to deal with “all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19) in his work.

your messenger] In the Greek, “your apostolos.” Some have explained this to mean “your chief pastor,” in fact “your bishop,” leader of the “episcopi” and “diaconi” of Php 1:1. But there is no real Scripture parallel for such a meaning; and meanwhile 2 Corinthians 8:23 gives a clear parallel for the meaning “your delegated messenger (to me).” The Greek wording of the clause fully confirms this; it may be paraphrased, “messenger, and minister of need, sent by you to me.” R.V. your messenger and minister to my need. Meanwhile the word apostolos seems to have had from the very first a certain sacredness and speciality about it. Even when not used of the Lord’s Apostles, it has borrowed something of greatness from His use of it (Luke 6:13) for them; it is not merely (as by derivation) “one sent,” a messenger; it is a sacred and authoritative messenger.—We may perhaps reverently trace here a slight play upon the word, as if the Philippians were the superior party ana Paul the inferior. As if he said, “One whom you have sent as your missionary to me.”

he that ministered to my wants] Lit. and better (see above) [your] minister of [to] my need. The Greek word is leitourgos, which again is a word of dignified and often sacred connexion, exactly represented by our “minister.” See Romans 13:6 for its use of magistrates; Hebrews 8:2 for its use of priests. We see here again a certain affectionate play upon the word: Epaphroditus bore an office and authority given by—the Philippians’ love.

Php 2:25. Ἐπαφρόδιτον, Epaphroditus) Php 4:18.—συστρατιώτην, a fellow-soldier) ch. Php 1:27; Php 1:30.—ὑμῶν δὲ ἀπόστολον, and your deputy or messenger) The Philippians had deputed him as a messenger to Paul [Php 4:18].—λειτουργὸν τῆς χρείας μου, the minister to my necessity) To this also refer your [viz. your minister, the one sent by you to minister to my necessity]; for he had been serviceable to Paul in the name of the Philippians. Also see how highly even external ministration is estimated: Php 2:30.—πέμψαι, to send) He says, to send, not to send back; for he had come to Paul for the purpose of remaining with him: Php 2:30.

Verse 25. - Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus; translate, but I count it necessary. Ἡγησάμην here and in Ver. 28 are epistolary aorists; they point, that is, to the time of reading the letter, not to that of writing it; and are therefore to be rendered by the English present. Epaphroditus is mentioned only in this Epistle. Epaphras is the contracted form, but the name is a common one, and there is no evidence of his identity with the Epaphras of Colossians and Philemon. He seems to have been the bearer of this Epistle. St. Paul felt that to come himself, or even to send Timothy, might possibly not be in his power; he thought it necessary, a matter of duty, to send Epaphroditus at once. My brother, and companion in labor, and fellow-soldier. Mark how the epithets rise one above another; they imply fellowship in religion, in work, in endurance. But your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. "Your" refers to both clauses; "your messenger, and (your) minister to my need." Epaphroditus had brought to St. Paul the contributions of the Philippians (Philippians 4:18). Some think that the word rendered "messenger" (ἀπόστολος, literally "apostle") means that Epaphroditus was the apostle, that is, the bishop of the Philippian Church. It may be so (comp. Philippians 4:3, and note); but there is no proof of the establishment of any diocesan bishops, except St. James at Jerusalem, at so early a period. The word ἀπόστολος. both here and in 2 Corinthians 8:23 (ἀπόσψολος ἐκκλησιῶν), is probably used in its first meaning in the sense of messenger, or delegate. The Greek word for minister, λειτουργός, seems to imply, like λειτουργία in Ver. 30, that St. Paul regarded the alms of the Philippians as an offering to God, ministered by Epaphroditus. (But see Romans 13:6, also 2 Kings 4:43; 2 Kings 6:15, etc. in the Greek.) Philippians 2:25Epaphroditus

Mentioned only in this epistle. See on Epaphras, Plm 1:23. The name is derived from Aphrodite (Venus), and means charming.

Messenger (ἀπόστολον)

The same word as apostle, one sent with a commission.

He that ministered (λειτουργὸν)

Kindred with λειτουργία service, in Philippians 2:17. Rev., minister.

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