2013-04-08 - Epaphroditus
Originally Published 2011-04-01
In Philippians 2:25-30, we read the short story of Epaphroditus - brother, worker, soldier, messenger, and minister. Epaphroditus was sent from the Philippian church to Rome. In Biblical times, this was a long, hard journey. The Philippian church was one of Paul's favorites, and had supported him financially in the past. Epaphroditus was sent to Rome, where Paul was imprisoned, to present a gift to Paul - and to serve him Paul described Epaphroditus as a brother in Christ. They were both members of the family of God. Paul called him a coworker. Both were working to spread the Gospel, in the early days of the Christian church. Paul referred to Epaphroditus as a fellow soldier.
In his epistles, Paul frequently wrote of Christians as soldiers standing firm in their struggle against the Devil and evil. Paul also called Epaphroditus a messenger, as the Philippian church had sent him to deliver a message of support to Paul. Finally, Paul characterized Epaphroditus as a minister. Epaphroditus was in Rome to provide priestly service to Paul's needs. In verse 27, we learn that Epaphroditus suffered a serious illness while serving Paul in Rome. In fact, Paul said that Epaphroditus nearly died. Paul attributed Epaphroditus recovery to God's mercy. Word of Epaphroditus' illness evidently reached the Philippians, because Paul said that Epaphroditus was distressed because his home church had heard he was sick. As a result, Paul sent Epaphroditus home. Paul told the Philippians to welcome Epaphroditus and hold him in honor, as a result of his service.
What can we learn from the story of Epaphroditus? Like Epaphroditus, God may send us on missions to serve others. The journey will not necessarily be easy. The work might be hard. We may suffer from our efforts. But from Epaphroditus' example, we can rest assured that God will watch over us and provide for our needs. And at the end, God will call us to our Heavenly home.