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 2:25-30)
Holding Such Men In Esteem
Nobility of character is a rare commodity and when it is found in a man it must be treasured. There are many people who grace the pages of holy writ that little or nothing is known of their lives and Epaphroditus is such a character. He appears in Paul’s letter to the saints in Philippi and disappears just as quickly. The kind of man Epaphroditus is described as being almost deserves a book written of his life. He stood out among the early disciples as a man of courage, faithfulness, devotion and a heart fully devoted to the Lord. The early church would suffer under the barrage of persecution from the Jewish leaders and Roman Empire. It would require men of grit to withstand the temptations to give up and abandon their faith but men like Paul’s fellow brother from Philippi would not be among the faithless. Epaphroditus was a brother of the apostle and called a worker and a soldier in league with the work of Paul. That would show a grueling character of a man willing to work hard and long hours in teaching the gospel of Christ at the expense of his time and energies. The man from Philippi was a soldier of Christ and showed the mind of being a faithful conqueror of truth against the bastions of idolatry, materialism and religious persecution. He was a warrior willing to fight the good fight for the cause of Jesus Christ.
Epaphroditus was a man who cared for the affairs of others. He served the church in Philippi in assisting Paul in his labors and help care for the needs of the apostle. As a servant of Christ he was a servant to others. It takes a special man to put himself in the service of others and Epaphroditus eagerly served the needs of Paul. His health became a factor as he became ill but this did not dissuade him from his tasks as he worked in the kingdom. The brethren at Philippi became very concerned when they heard the brother was sick and in turn Epaphroditus worried the brethren would be overly concerned about his affairs and sickness. What a remarkable man to worry more about the concerns of his brethren regarding his own illness than his concern for self. His spirit was completely in service to others. Paul alludes to the fact that whatever illness Epaphroditus had almost killed him. By God’s grace he was spared. This concerned the apostle and the brethren but he was made well again. A lesson is found in this story that shows that Paul had the power to heal all diseases but not all men received the power of healing without the stated purpose of miracles being established. Paul was thankful God had spared his fellow worker and soldier.
The church in Philippi would rejoice when they saw Epaphroditus again as he was sent by Paul to return to his city and greet the brethren face to face. His work with Paul was arduous and difficult and for unknown reasons Epaphroditus suffered serious health problems nearly killing him. God had seen him through and returning to his home town he would be received with gladness by the brethren. It goes without saying that men like Epaphroditus would be held in esteem or honor but Paul admonishes the Philippian brethren to recognize the sacrifice of their brother and to acknowledge his work. Knowing the kind of man he was, it would have been hard for Epaphroditus to accept such accolades because of his humility. However, men such as this should be regarded for their works sake and presented to others as an example of how men should serve the Lord. It does not elevate the man in a prideful manner but acknowledge the incredible work of those who labor in the kingdom. Holding such men in esteem is proper and encouraging to show others the character of sacrifice, devotion and love for truth. Down through the centuries the name Epaphroditus remains as one of the hallmarks of those men who worked quietly behind the scenes in establishing the New Testament church. Everyone who shares in the glory of God’s kingdom in some small way owe a debt of gratitude to men like Epaphroditus.