Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labor, and fellow soldier, but your messenger…
I. BROTHER. A name significant —
1. Of office. As judges call one another brother, so does Paul Epaphroditus, because they discharged the same spiritual functions.
2. Of love and friendship. It shows the care which one Christian man should have of another.
3. Of equality. Hereby St. Paul shows
(1) His humility, who, being an apostle, called one of inferior rank brother.
(2) His magnanimity.
II. FELLOW LABOURER. Unless ministers are this they are fellow loiterers. This must not be, because the Scriptures compares their office with the most laborious of occupations. If ministers are fellow labourers, then —
1. Their people must submit to be wrought upon. If they are builders you must be lively stones, and suffer yourselves to be squared and made fit for the building. If they are husbandmen you must be the ground, and such as may bring forth fruit to perfection, else all their labour upon you will be vain.
2. God suffers them not to be alone (Mark 6:7) so that they may render mutual aid. Thus He sent and , the one severe and powerful, the other meek and gentle; Luther hot and fiery, and Melanchthon soft and mild, each to temper the other.
III. FELLOW SOLDIER.
1. Every man's life is a warfare.
2. In this warfare ministers are captains, who fight against the enemies within us, and lead us against the enemies without us. Then —
(1) Hold not forth against the ministry.
(2) Help it (Judges 5:23).
(3) Look for recompense in the triumphant kingdom.
IV. MESSENGER OF THE CHURCHES AND MINISTER TO PAUL'S WANTS.
1. The child of God is subject to wants.
2. They shall be satisfied. Rather than Elias shall perish for hunger the ravens shall feed him (1 Kings 17:4). If Dives will not have mercy on Lazarus, dogs shall. For Paul God provides an Epaphroditus or an Onesiphorus.
(R. Sibbes, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.