Philippians 2:26
For he has been longing for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill.
Sermons
Christian FriendshipJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 2:19-30
Christian IntercourseJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 2:19-30
Christian Mutual HappinessL. O. Thompson.Philippians 2:19-30
Paul, Timothy, and EpaphroditusA. Raleigh, D. D.Philippians 2:19-30
The Considerate Missions of Epaphroditus and TimothyR.M. Edgar Philippians 2:19-30
The Mission of TimothyJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 2:19-30
The Value of a True ComforterH. W. Beecher.Philippians 2:19-30
Timothy and EpaphroditusR. Finlayson Philippians 2:19-30
Two Characters, Representing Two Aspects of Christian WorkV. Hutton Philippians 2:19-30
Epaphroditus the Link Between the Apostle and PhilippiT. Croskery Philippians 2:24-30
EpaphroditusJ. Daille.Philippians 2:25-30
EpaphroditusJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 2:25-30
EpaphroditusBishop Lightfoot.Philippians 2:25-30
EpaphroditusW.F. Adeney Philippians 2:25-30
The Attachment of Fellow SoldiersPhilippians 2:25-30
The Relations of BelieversJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 2:25-30
The Titles of EpaphroditusR. Sibbes, D. D.Philippians 2:25-30
True Laborers for ChristD. Thomas Philippians 2:25-30
Life not RegardedH. O. Mackay.Philippians 2:26-28
Life Preferred to ServiceH. O. Mackay.Philippians 2:26-28
Providential CareH. W. Beecher.Philippians 2:26-28
Recovery from SicknessJ. Alexander, D. D.Philippians 2:26-28
Returning Labourers to be Welcomed with JoyR. Johnstone, LL. B.Philippians 2:26-28
SicknessJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 2:26-28
SympathyJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 2:26-28
The Christian's DutyR. Sibbes, D. D.Philippians 2:26-28
The Christian's Duty to His MinistersR. Sibbes, D. D.Philippians 2:26-28
The Risk of Christian WorkJ. Hutchinson, D. D.Philippians 2:26-28
The Sickness of EpaphroditusR. Sibbes, D. D.Philippians 2:26-28
The Sickness of EpaphroditusDean Vaughan.Philippians 2:26-28
The Succour of the Saints IsJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 2:26-28
The Work of ChristJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 2:26-28
Timely ProvidencesJ. Flavel.Philippians 2:26-28
Why God's Servants are AfflictedJ. Daille.Philippians 2:26-28


Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, etc. Epaphroditus, it would seem, had been sent from the Church at Philippi to Paul at Rome, with supplies for his temporal necessities. In the execution of his commission he had fallen sick, and now, having reached convalescence, he longed to return home in order to relieve the anxieties of his friends, who had heard of his indisposition. The text presents to us two genuine, if not model, workers for Christ - men thoroughly imbued with the Christly spirit, and subject to those trials which generally attend in this world the faithful discharge of the gospel mission. In them we discover -

I. A FEELING OF SPIRITUAL EQUALITY. Paul speaks of Epaphroditus as "my brother," "my companion," or, as in the New Version, "my fellow-worker" and "my fellow-soldier." Whatever difference existed in their natural or acquired abilities, their worldly position and social standing, a sense of spiritual equality possessed and ruled them. They were children of the same great Father, laborers in the same great cause, soldiers in the same moral campaign - a campaign against the evils, physical, intellectual, social, and moral, that afflict the world. Where is this sense of spiritual equality displayed now amongst those who profess to be laborers of Christ? What would be thought of an archbishop writing a letter to a Church concerning a primitive local preacher, a true laborer withal, with these words, "my brother, my laborer, my fellow-soldier," receive him with all gladness; and hold such in reputation? Such conduct from the primate would shock the fawning sycophancy which is too rampant in Church and state.

II. A SENTIMENT OF TENDER SYMPATHY. Here is sympathy manifested by three parties.

1. By the Philippian Church towards Paul. Touched with Paul's wretched condition in Rome, a prisoner lacking food, they sent Epaphroditus to him with means of relief, made him the "messenger" of charity.

2. By Epaphroditus towards the Philippian Church. Paul says, "he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness." Why was he "full of heaviness," or in sore trouble? It does not say that it was on his own account, but because "ye had heard he had been sick." He was afraid that the tidings which they had received of his indisposition would distress them with anxieties, and he hurries home to relieve them.

3. By Paul for both. "I sent him therefore the more carefully [diligently], that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful." As if he had said, "I want your sorrows removed, for in your sorrows I sorrow." How beautiful, thrice beautiful, is all this! How rare, withal! how Christly! Nay, there is no Christliness without it. Unless Christianity unites all souls in this living sympathy, it has failed in its mission. All true disciples are members of one body, of which Christ is the Head, and what one feels, all feel, and they rejoice with those that rejoice, and weep with those that weep.

III. A CONDITION OF TRYING AFFLICTION. Paul was a sufferer. He was not only a prisoner at Rome, awaiting a terrible fate, but in actual "need," dependent on the charity of others. Epaphroditus had been in sore affliction, "nigh unto death." Now, it is worthy of note that the affliction that came on both these men came on them in consequence of their Christianity. One might have thought that their Christianity, their generosity, purity, and moral nobleness, would have guarded them from even the common ills of life. Not so. Paul knew that such afflictions were to be expected, and elsewhere he says, "No man should be moved by these afflictions. Ye yourselves know that ye are appointed thereunto." Afflictions, however, that come in this way are distinguished from all other afflictions in two respects.

1. They have a disciplinary influence. They are not judicial penalties, but parental chastisements. They cleanse, they spiritualize, they ennoble the soul.

2. They have Divine supports. So abundant are the consolations they experience that they "glory in tribulation," etc.

IV. A REALIZATION OF DIVINE MERCY. "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." He ascribes both the restoration of Epaphroditus to health, and his own deliverance from the terrible "sorrow" which would have befallen himself had his friend expired, to the mercy of God. Not to any secondary instrumentality, not to the value of their services in the cause of Christ, but to mercy. A practical realization of Divine mercy is at once a sign and element of vital Christianity. In the gift of life there is mercy, in the sustentation of life there is mercy, in the afflictions of life there is mercy; to a Christian all is mercy.

V. A RIGHT TO CHRISTIAN REGARD. "Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me."

1. Give him a hearty reception. "Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness." Welcome him, not with mere conventional civility and social politeness, but with exultant affection.

2. Treat him with honor. "Hold such in reputation." He is a noble man; treat him as a noble man should be treated. The honor which is paid to worldly men on account of their wealth, their grandeur and position, is a spurious honor, is flunkeyism. There can be no true honor where there is not the honour-worthy, and the honour-worthy implies moral excellence.

3. Do all this because he deserves it. "Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death." He is thoroughly disinterested; he suffered and risked his life, not from any personal motives, but from the inspiration of Christian love and charity. Disinterestedness is the soul of virtue and the only foundation of greatness. A disinterested man has a right to Christian regard, ay, more, to enthusiastic reception. - D.T.







For He longed after you all
I. THE SICKNESS AND ITS LESSONS.

1. God's children are subject to sickness as long as they live.(1) This arises from the nature of the body and the character of its surroundings.(2) Thus grace is strengthened in the soul (2 Corinthians 4:16).

2. God suffers His children to come to extremities, yea, even to death itself, as Hezekiah, Job, Jonah, David, Daniel, the three children, the disciples, our Lord Himself, and by this means it comes to pass that when all ordinary means fail their trust is not placed on the means but on God's own good will and power.

3. God suffers us to fall into extremities that He might try what is in us, and that He might exercise our graces.

II. HIS FEELING. "Full of heaviness," not for himself but for them. "He longed after you all." A great triumph of grace when we can refrain from murmuring about ourselves, and feel only for the effect of our affliction on others.

III. GOD'S INTERPOSITION.

1. Had mercy on him.(1) God's mercy is the spring of all God's dealings with us.(2) Let us look to it that we wilfully neglect not or cast not away mercy, nor rest in our own merit.

2. Had mercy on me.

IV. PAUL'S CONDUCT.

1. Although he regarded the restoration of his friend as a special mercy to himself, he was more anxious about the comfort of the Philippians than for his own.

2. This self-denial, however, augmented the apostle's joy, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

(R. Sibbes, D. D.)

affords room for the display of —

I.BROTHERLY SYMPATHY.

II.DIVINE MERCY.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. HE WAS SICK.

1. It is a salutary thing for the healthy to remember the sick. What a change does even a slight sickness make in our thoughts and feelings! What an importance does it give to things at other times trivial, and what an insignificance to things at other times engrossing! The strong man is then in the grasp of a stronger. The worldly man finds then that there is something unseen as true as things that are seen; the busy man is reminded that there will be an end of work, and the frivolous that there will be an end of pleasure.

2. What a natural incongruity there is between health and sickness! How does the very presence of a person in robust health jar upon the sensitiveness of a frame diseased? How few there are whose visit to a chamber of sickness carries with it repose and soothing! What a tenderness should we cherish towards the peculiarities, frailities, irritabilities of sickness. What care there should be in the choice of times, the control of speech, the selection of topics, and in the regard to brevity! And yet in all these things, how should art conceal art? and a delicate consideration prompt everything.

3. God gives these gifts naturally to some: and some learn it in the school of Jesus.

II. NIGH UNTO DEATH.

1. Happy are they who well use those seasons of passing indisposition, which interrupt from time to time a life of average vigour. They will find themselves the less surprised and overwhelmed by the arrival of that time when a mortal sickness shall darken the windows forever.

2. This sort of visit to the gates of the grave, and acquaintance with the preliminaries of dying, is an occurrence by no means infrequent. We are all familiar with records of perils by water, in which every stage of the process of dying has been travelled through. How remarkable are the details of those records. Words and acts long forgotten flash again upon the mind, and they have made the person able to tell from experience how it may be in the judgment, how conscience may arraign the sinner at the bar of God, and do the office of the undying worm and the unquenchable fire.

3. But sickness, too, as well as accident, may give something of the same experience. There may have been a long suspense between life and death. The physician may have destroyed hope. At last a turn has come; the sickness was close upon death, but it was not death, and all this mortal strife must be endured again. Has that person nothing to tell of those days of expected dissolution? Can he lose again the experience then acquired. We know that no such experience can, of itself, convert a soul (Luke 16:31); but it will, at least, tell how small and poor the world looked, how true God's truth appeared; and well may such be asked whether they have duly cherished the impression made upon them in those days of suspense.

III. GOD HAD MERCY ON HIM. Is this the same apostle who wrote Philippians 1:23? Does he account it a mercy which withdraws a man from immediate fruition? We may draw from this an illustration of the naturalness of the Word of God. However bright the light the gospel throws upon the world beyond still life is a blessing (Ecclesiastes 11:7), and still death is an enemy. To speak of a recovery from sickness as a misfortune is as contradictory to the language of the Bible as it is to the voice of nature within.

1. No one will doubt this in the case of one whose salvation is less than secure. That such a man is not cut off in his sins, that a new opportunity is given him for amendment, is indeed a mercy.

2. But Epaphroditus was a Christian man. To him death would have been gain, and had providence so ordered it Paul would have bidden his Philippian friends to give thanks over him as one who slept in Jesus. If God wills thus it is well for the Christian; if God wills the opposite it is well still. If he lives He can still work and gather in more souls for Christ.

(Dean Vaughan.)

I. THE SICKNESS WHICH YOU HAVE ENDURED.

1. You have, perhaps, been suddenly smitten after a long and uninterrupted course of health.

2. Or your sickness has been preceded by protracted feebleness and delicacy.

3. But whichever way it has come the affliction has secluded you, discontinued your active pursuits, oppressed you with pain, and, it may be, destroyed all hope for the time of recovery.

4. How solemn and affecting was your condition when the crisis arrived. Death, "the king of terrors," had knocked and was standing in your presence.

5. What were your thoughts as you thus trembled on the brink of eternity? Did you see heaven: or was there nothing before you but "a fearful looking for of judgment."

II. THE RECOVERY WHICH THE GOD OF MERCY PERMITTED YOU TO ENJOY.

1. The source of this mercy is Divine. No doubt all the means which skill and kindness could suggest had been employed in the case of Epaphroditus, but when his recovery was effected the apostle ascribed it entirely to the hand of God. And so must you. He gave the skill which selected the suitable means and gave His blessing so that the means were rendered effectual. Have you thanked Him for His mercy.

2. Your recovery manifests the power of Divine mercy. Next to resurrection, recovery is the most astonishing and merciful display of Divine powers. Your recovery manifests the sovereignty of this mercy. Others have died. Had you died none could have charged God with injustice or unkindness. He was under no obligation to heal you.

4. The value and importance of this mercy. A state of sickness, however painful to the flesh, has often proved exceedingly profitable to the spirit, and recovery has given you a fresh opportunity for salvation and usefulness. Some are hardened by the dispensation, but in your case it is to be hoped it has been sanctified and blessed.

III. THE MERCY WHICH YOUR RECOVERY HAS CONFERRED ON OTHERS AS WELL AS ON YOURSELVES. There are no earthly sorrows more deep or distressing than those which death occasions to the survivors, In the case of Christians the sorrow is alleviated by hope, but in the case of unbelievers it is burdened by despair. Whatever may have been your ease, every child, brother, sister, relative, friend, has echoed on your recovery the joyful exclamation, "and on me also." In restoring your friend God has mercifully —

1. Answered your prayers.

2. Regarded your afflictions.

(1)Your poverty.

(2)Your own sickness.

(3)Your sorrow in anticipating other troubles.

(4)Your grief lest your friend should die in impenitence.

3. Regarded your souls by sparing a fellow labourer.

(J. Alexander, D. D.)

The apostle —

I.SHARES IN THE SORROW of the Philippians.

II.HASTES TO WIPE AWAY THEIR TEARS.

III.REJOICES IN THEIR JOY.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

As the skill of a pilot is more clearly seen in the guidance of a bad vessel among banks and breakers, than if he piloted some good ship, well equipped in a safe sea without danger; so is it evident that the power and wisdom of God are more clearly and wonderfully shown, when He preserves and guides to the completion of His plans His poor believers, weak and subject as they are to the sufferings and miseries of other men, than if, stripping them of their vileness, and clothing them from thence with an immortal nature, incapable of suffering, He employed them thus fitted in His work. Besides, He acts thus for the praise of believers themselves, afflictions justifying their piety, and making its lustre appear as well as its firmness in the eyes of men and angels. It remains subject to calumny whilst in prosperity. Satan desires to make it pass for hypocrisy, and for a mercenary service, as if they only loved God because He spared them. It is what he formerly said of Job, that he only feared the Lord because He had everywhere encompassed him with a hedge of providence and blessing, and that he would doubtless change his piety into blasphemy if God were to strike him. To confound this malice, the Lord gave up to him the property and health of His servant, and caused his faith and his love to be seen by his constancy in the midst of these severe trials. Sickness, poverty, persecution, and other sufferings, are as it were the crucible of God. He makes believers pass through this fire, that their piety being preserved, and that coming out of it more pure and brilliant, every one may be forced to acknowledge their value; and this is what we are taught by the apostle St. Peter, saying that the trial of our faith in the midst of temptations is much more precious than gold which perishes, and though it be tried with fire shall turn "to praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ."

(J. Daille.)

All the events of life are precious to one that has this simple connection with Christ of faith and love. No wind can blow wrong, no event be mistimed, no result disastrous. If God but cares for our inward and eternal life, if by all the experiences of this life, He is reducing it and preparing for its disclosure, nothing can befall us but prosperity. Every sorrow shall be but the setting of some luminous jewel of joy. Our very mourning shall be but the enamel around the diamond; our very hardships but the metallic rim that holds the opal, glancing with strange interior fires.

(H. W. Beecher.)

We find multitude of Providences so timed to a minute, that, had they fallen out ever so little sooner or later, they had signified but little in comparison of what they now do. Certainly, it cannot be casualty, but counsel, that so exactly nicks the opportunity. Contingencies keep no rules. How remarkable was the relief of Rochelle, by a shoal of fish that came into the harbour when they were ready to perish with hunger, such as they never observed either before or after that time. Mr. Dodd could not go to bed one night, but feels a strong impulse to visit (though unseasonably) a neighbouring gentleman, and just as he came he meets him at his door, with a halter in his pocket, just going to hang himself. Dr. Tare and his wife, in the Irish rebellion, flying through the woods with a sucking child, which was just ready to expire, the mother, going to rest it upon a rock, puts her hand upon a bottle of warm milk, by which it was preserved. A good woman, from whose mouth I received it, being driven to a great extremity, all supplies failing, was exceedingly plunged into unbelieving doubts and fears, not seeing whence supplies should come; when lo! in the nick of time, turning some things in a chest, she unexpectedly lights upon a piece of gold, which supplied her present wants, till God opened another door of supply. If these things fall out casually, how is it that they observe the very juncture of time so exactly? This is become proverbial in Scripture. "In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen" (Genesis 22:14).

(J. Flavel.)

Receive Him therefore in the Lord with all gladness
I. A WORK OF CHRIST.

1. Enjoined.

2. Exemplified.

3. Commended by Him.

II. A WORK OF SACRIFICE. Requiring —

1. The renunciation of ease and comfort.

2. Often of health and life.

III. A WORK OF HONOUR.

1. Those who undertake it are justly esteemed.

2. Their preservation is a source of joy to the Church.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. TO DO ALL THINGS "IN THE LORD."

1. Marry.

2. Love.

3. Salute.

4. Receive ministers.

5. Live.

6. Die.

II. THE REASON FOR THIS. A Christian in all looks to the Lord, and depends upon Him. Carnal men do contrarily. They marry, love, etc., carnally.

(R. Sibbes, D. D.)

I. THE DUTY.

1. To receive them joyfully — whatever their ministrations may be, rebuke or encouragement, admonition or comfort. It is for your good; rebel not against them.

2. To hold such in reputation, personally and officially.

(1)By speaking well of them and not suffering detraction.

(2)By cooperating with them.

(3)By supporting them.

II. THE MOTIVES.

1. It is an evidence that we are the children of God, and have passed from death to life, if we love and reverence the brethren.

2. Those whom God esteems we ought to make the most account of.

3. Consider their gifts and graces.

4. Remember the good you reap by them.

(R. Sibbes, D. D.)

I. IS ESSENTIALLY BENEVOLENT IN ITS OBJECTS.

1. To feed the hungry.

2. Clothe the naked.

3. Visit the sick and the prisoner.

II. DESERVES EVERY SACRIFICE.

1. Of time.

2. Money.

3. Life.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

You remember the enthusiastic welcome which was accorded among us to the brave young American, Stanley, who had encountered innumerable perils to carry aid to the illustrious missionary pioneer of Central Africa, David Livingstone. We felt as if in helping the noble old man, whom all of us had come to think of as a personal friend, he had helped ourselves. We know what pleasure and sense of honour would be felt if Florence Nightingale presented herself under our roof, or under the roof of any true-hearted countryman of those wounded soldiers of the Crimea, for whom she cared so wisely and lovingly, and who kissed her very shadow on the wall, as she passed through the wards of the hospital. Somewhat like this would be the position of Epaphroditus on his return to Philippi. The knowledge of his heroism and self-devotion in the cause of the Saviour they loved, and this in discharging the duties of a ministry for the relief and comfort of their dear friend and spiritual father the apostle, could not but lead them to feel it a peculiar privilege and honour to be permitted to welcome him once more among them.

(R. Johnstone, LL. B.)

The word "not regarding" means Epaphroditus had risked his life as the gambler does his stake. He had played with it as in a game of chance. The same word in later days, and possibly with a direct reference to this passage, has given a name to an inferior, and though sometimes a disorderly, yet a self-forgetful class of church officers, who from Constantine's time onwards were set apart as attendants on the sick and dying. They were men who hazarded their lives in times of plague and contagious sickness, like the παράβολοι, or bestiarii, who exposed themselves to the risk of death in conflict with the wild beasts of the amphitheatre. It was in some such way as this that Epaphroditus staked his life in faithfully representing the Philippian Church in carrying out the mission with which he had been entrusted.

(J. Hutchinson, D. D.)

In the early part of the American campaign some of the officers displayed great lack of bravery. This fact soon became known amongst the men, and caused great contempt. Once in an engagement a soldier said to his comrade, "Why don't you get behind a tree?" The reply came instantly, "Oh! there's not enough of them for the officers."

(H. O. Mackay.)

Father Peto and Elstowe, two men who had dared to speak out bravely as to Henry the Eighth's misdeeds, were summoned before the king's council to receive a reprimand. Lord Essex told them they deserved to be sewn into a sack and thrown into the Thames. "Threaten such things to rich and dainty folk, who have their hope in this world," answered Elstowe, gallantly, "we fear them not; with thanks to God, we know the way to heaven to be as ready by water as by land." Men of such metal might be broken, but they could not be beat. The two offenders were hopelessly unrepentant and impracticable, and it was found necessary to banish them.

(H. O. Mackay.).

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