Philippians 2 - Letter By Epaphroditus

INTRODUCTION: Paul wrote to the Philippians about one of their faithful members who was with him in Rome. Epaphroditus had taken support from Philippi to Paul, and then he became very ill while he was there. When he had recovered, Paul sent him back to Philippi with this letter to the church. In this chapter, Paul began to outline some guidance for harmony in the church, and for a clear witness before non believers, of their faith in Christ.

NOTE: All scripture passages are from the World English Bible.


A - LOVE ONE ANOTHER AND BE OF ONE ACCORD

Philippians 2 "1 If there is therefore any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassion, 2 make my joy full, by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; 3 doing nothing through rivalry or through conceit, but in humility, each counting others better than himself; 4 each of you not just looking to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others.

COMMENTS: In chapter 1 Paul had reminded the believers about the treasure of Christ they have in their hearts by the grace of God that had saved them and will keep them until the day of Christ's return. Therefore, Paul earnestly encouraged them to be like-minded, having the love of Christ in harmony with each other so he would have joy about them. Each believer should be changed through the strong and urgent encouragement and comfort of love in Christ, so they will demonstrate their fellowship of the Spirit, and tender mercies and compassion for each other. Christians should not do anything through rivalry or through conceit, but in humility, each should count others better than themselves; being concerned about the needs of others, and not just about themselves. Paul had written similarly to the believers at Rome. Romans 12 "10 In love of the brothers be tenderly affectionate one to another; in honour preferring one another ... 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Don't set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Don't be wise in your own conceits."


B - HUMBLE YOURSELF AS CHRIST BECAME HUMBLE

Philippians2 "5 Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, didn't consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name; 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12 So then, my beloved, even as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God who works in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure."

COMMENTS: Paul wanted the believers to think about how they could apply to themselves the fact that Christ Jesus existed in the form of God, but he was willing to let go of his equality with God when he emptied himself and took the form of a servant when he was made in the likeness of men. While he was in human form, he humbled himself so much as to become obedient to death, even the shameful and extreme suffering of death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and all those who have already died on the earth. Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, Paul said that as the Philippians had shown obedience to the Word while he was with them, and now in his absence to do more so to work to the fulfillment of their salvation in fear and trembling. This is not to be frightened as if threatened by evil, but to realize that it is God who works in each Christian both to bring about his will and his work in them, for his good pleasure.


C - HOLD UP THE WORD OF LIFE

Philippians 2 "14 Do all things without murmurings and disputes, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you are seen as lights in the world, 16 holding up the word of life; that I may have something to boast in the day of Christ, that I didn't run in vain nor labour in vain. 17 Yes, and if I am poured out on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice, and rejoice with you all. 18 In the same way, you also rejoice, and rejoice with me."

COMMENTS: It is essential to avoid disputes and murmurs of complaint while doing things together to be without blame or harm as children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Christians should seek to stand out as lights in their society in the world holding up the word of life that shines from Christ. Paul wanted to know that the labor he had invested in the growth of their faith would remain until the day of Christ. And if his life should be poured out to his death through his service to build their faith, he would rejoice with all of them for their stand in Christ. In the same way, he wanted them to rejoice, and to know they would be rejoicing with him.


D - PAUL PLANNED TO SEND TIMOTHY AT SOME TIME SOON

Philippians 2 "19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered up when I know how you are doing. 20 For I have no one else like-minded, who will truly care about you. 21 For they all seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know the proof of him, that, as a child serves a father, so he served with me in furtherance of the Good News. 23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it will go with me. 24 But I trust in the Lord that I myself also will come shortly."

COMMENTS: Though not with the delivery of this letter, Paul had hope that Christ would soon afterward allow him to send Timothy to visit the Philippians. He knew Timothy would make a report back to him, and he looked forward to receive that as uplifting news. Paul wrote that Timothy was very much like-minded with him, and he would truly care about the Philippians. So many others seek their own interests, not the things of Jesus Christ. But they personally knew Timothy was not that way, for he served with Paul in the furtherance of the gospel, as a child lovingly serves a father. Therefore, Paul said he hoped to send Timothy as soon as he would know how things would go in his own situation. Paul was trusting the Lord that he would soon be able to see them in person. There is no record in scripture of Paul having a return visit to Philippi, but he had already written that whether he lived or died he wanted to be faithful to the Lord. Paul's attitude as a chosen apostle should be an encouragement to each Christian to continue to set our hope on various services to the Lord whether all of them come to fruition or not. .


E - EPAPHRODITUS WAS CHOSEN TO DELIVER THE LETTER

Philippians 2 "25 But I counted it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, fellow soldier, and your apostle and servant of my need; 26 since he longed for you all, and was very troubled, because you had heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick, nearly to death, but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, that I might not have sorrow on sorrow. 28 I have sent him therefore the more diligently, that, when you see him again, you may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. 29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all joy, and hold such in honour, 30 because for the work of Christ he came near to death, risking his life to supply that which was lacking in your service toward me."

COMMENTS: Paul had decided it was necessary to send Epaphroditus with this letter, and he described him as his brother, his fellow worker and soldier; then as their apostle and servant of Paul's need. it was important for Epaphroditus to return to them because he longed to be with them, and he was very troubled because he knew they had heard he was sick. Paul said he was indeed very sick almost to the point of death, but God had mercy on him. This was not a miraculous healing given through the hand of Paul, but his recovery also gave Paul reason to thank God because he would have been sorrowing greatly for himself and for the believers at Philippi for their loss, if Epaphroditus had died. Therefore Paul said he eagerly sent Epaphroditus so they would rejoice when they saw him again, and Paul would no longer have sorrow because of their concern about Epaphroditus. So he asked that they receive him joyfully in the Lord, and to honor people like him who would even risk their life for the work of Christ. Epaphroditus had come near to death while he was providing service offered from the church at Philippi that may not have otherwise been given.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, I praise you for the treasure of Christ in my heart that you have given by grace to keep me until your return, and I want to be an active part of your church in the ways Paul has described. Therefore enable me to do my part to be like-minded and in compassionate harmony with other Christians. Keep me from exhibiting any type of rivalry or conceit, and help me to consider the needs of others more than just of myself. Lord Jesus, it is sobering to me to realize that though you existed in the form of God, you were willing to surrender your equality with God to empty yourself and take the form of a servant when you were made in the likeness of men. While in human form you humbled yourself so much as to become obedient to death, even the shameful and extreme suffering of death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted you Jesus, and gave to you the name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and all those who have already died on the earth. Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Lord, I firmly believe that it is only through your Spirit within me that I will be able to be obedient to your Word, and to bear the fruit of your salvation that takes the form of good deeds to bring honor and glory to you for your good pleasure. Strengthen me, Lord, against my sinful nature, so I can avoid any temptation to grumble or dispute about things in the local church, realizing Christians need to resist being influenced by being in the midst of a world with so many unsaved people. Help me instead to be a light that shines from within as I hold up the word of life that shines from Christ. Thank you, Lord, for the example of the self sacrificing service of Epaphroditus to make the very distant and time consuming journey from Philippi to Rome to take support to Paul in behalf of the church. Paul had accolades for Epaphroditus because there was no miraculous healing for him, it was simply by the grace of God that he recovered from his illness while in this service. May I be willing to give loving credit to those who extend themselves in similar ways, while also giving all praise to you, Lord, for your enablement. Guide me also to the ways you have designed for me to serve my Lord and Savior. Amen.

Published 21 November 2015