But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly. Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me. (Philippians 2:19-30)
The Team Of ET
Few men had the energy level and work ethic of the apostle Paul. When he became a Christian, his feet seldom hit the ground for the amount of work he was doing. Tirelessly going from place to place under sometimes severe conditions, the man from Tarsus was a constant source of preaching to lost souls. Without a family to be a husband or father to, Paul could take long journeys spending years traveling from city to city. Many people accompanied him on his trips and there were those who could not keep up with Paul and returned home. Luke traveled extensively with Paul recording the many places they traveled and the powerful stories of conversion. Two men that became a special part of the apostle’s journeys were Epaphroditus and Timothy.
Luke’s account of the missionary journeys of Paul describe difficult travels. Paul was constantly on the move. Finding Timothy in the region of Derbe and Lystra was a wonderful blessing to the work of Paul as they drew close together as a father and son. It is unclear when Epaphroditus joined the work but both men stood out for the kind of faithfulness to God and to Paul that characterized their work. Timothy was a man who was clearly devoted to the work of the Lord. He had a spirit that was like Paul – courageous, zealous, diligent and loving. The apostle could not be in every place he would like to be but he knew that Timothy would care for the affairs of the church at Philippi. He could be depended upon to carry out the work of the Lord and Paul had full confidence in him.
Epaphroditus was another man who was a hard working fellow soldier of Paul. His character was proven to the point of nearly dying. He knew the importance of the gospel in the lives of Christians like the Philippians and he wanted to do everything he could to plant the seed in the hearts of the people. Some type of sickness overtook him and this concerned Paul greatly. Paul’s concern was not only for his friend but also for the worker he knew Epaphroditus to be. Timothy and Epaphroditus were men that needed to be held in esteem because of their devotion to the work of the Lord. Paul wanted the brethren to honor these men – not in terms of human wisdom – to recognize the untiring work in the kingdom of God. Preaching the gospel was an exhausting work and these two men gave so much to help Paul.
There is a lot of work in the kingdom of God. The team of Epaphroditus and Timothy should be an example of what can be done when men are dedicated to the cause of the gospel. It is hard work for anyone to engage but the rewards are eternal. Paul gave his life helping many souls come to Christ. Let us have the faith and courage of men like Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus to do the work. The fields are white to harvest. Pray that workers will enter the field to bring lost souls to Christ. Let that worker be you. Now that is a great story.
The gospel is not a secret to be hoarded but a story to be heralded. Too many Christians are stuffing themselves with gospel blessings, while millions have never had a taste. (Vance Havner; 1901-1986)