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)
Paul was imprisoned when he wrote the letter to the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi. The letter is filled with an upbeat and positive message of rejoicing in Christ with the blessings of God being enjoyed by the apostle and those accompanying him. Philippi had been the first city of Paul’s European ministry. He found a group of women by the riverside where prayer was to be made and Lydia was born into Christ along with her household. Shortly afterward, Paul and Silas were imprisoned by citizens stirred up by disgruntled men who lost their cruel livelihood in a demon-possessed girl. The Lord sent an earthquake that opened the doors of the jail, loosing all the chains. Before the jailor could kill himself, Paul assured him no one had escaped, and all was well. The jailor and his household were baptized into Christ that very same night. After being released from prison, Paul and Silas spent some time at the home of Lydia and then made their way to Thessalonica.
Early on his second missionary journey, Paul found a young man named Timothy that became his constant companion. Many individuals traveled with Paul and among the workers in the camp of Paul was a man named Epaphroditus. Nothing is known of Epaphroditus except what is found in the letter to Philippi. Along with Timothy, Epaphroditus became a trusted and valuable worker for the apostle Paul as he preached the gospel. Epaphroditus was a servant’s servant. To be a fellow worker of Paul was to take on a great responsibility. Paul was in prison and Epaphroditus did not forsake him. Many would not be able to endure the rigors of Paul’s ministry but Epaphroditus was a faithful soldier who served the Lord in the face of great trial.
Nothing is known of what happened to Epaphroditus but Paul mentions that he was sick almost unto death. Epaphroditus was a tireless worker. He had a passion for helping Paul in every possible way and became a faithful messenger in the work of spreading the gospel. The letters Paul wrote had to be hand-carried to the cities throughout the province. Corinth, Philippi, Ephesus, Thessalonica, and Colosse were spread apart from one another and someone had to carry the correspondence from Paul to the churches. Men like Epaphroditus rose to the occasion doing their small part in the grand scheme of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.
Epaphroditus was a worker that could be counted on. He did not waver or complain about the work. Paul depended on men and women like Epaphroditus to help him carry the gospel to other places. It was difficult for the apostle Paul to be confined to the walls of a Roman prison but his fellow workers were lifting his spirits and letting his words have power throughout the empire. It takes special people who are willing to go the extra mile and do a little bit more than needed to further the work of the Lord. Epaphroditus was a vital part of the encouragement of the apostle Paul.
The church has always needed people like Epaphroditus. These are the saints who have a servant’s heart who quietly go about the work of the Lord with no fanfare and little or no recognition. Elders and preachers love these kinds of people. So much of the church’s work is done by the Epaphroditus workers and soldiers in the local congregation. They are commended before God for their love of the kingdom and the gospel of Christ. Thank you Epaphroditus people. We love and appreciate you.