Raise your hand if your first thought was about Epaphroditus. . . . I didn’t think so. Some of you are even thinking, “Epaphro – who?”
Epaphroditus is not one of those characters you read chapters about in the Bible. Most historians do not write much about him either. In fact all Scripture has to say about him follows:
Phlp 4:18, “I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”
Phlp 2:25-30, “I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.”
Nearly 700 miles from home, when traveling that distance was not as easy as using planes, trains, and automobiles, Epaphroditus served as the Philippians’ emissary to Paul and the mission of God. Paul describes this special Christian as:
- A Brother. He related to Paul as family. He knew Paul’s needs and understood Paul’s emotions.
- One Who Shared. He was more that just an observer, Epaphroditus involved himself in the work of serving the Lord.
- Persistent. Paul describes how he endured the hardships and dangers associated with serving God in a hostile world. Epaphroditus served as Paul was physically in chains for his work spreading the gospel (Phlp 1:16).
- Empathetic. Epaphroditus demonstrated compassionate care for Paul by bringing gifts from the Philippians and staying to render service to Paul.
- He Risked. Literally, Epaphroditus risked his life to serve God, Paul, and the Philippian Church. He faced the dangers of Roman persecution and he seemingly ignored his own health to help Paul.