Paul Sends Brother Epaphroditus Back to the Philippian Church Part 2
Philippians 2:28-30 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me. KJV
Paul concludes his declaration to these Philippian believers in his one and only documented letter we have of him writing to them while in prison with why he sent Epaphroditus back to them when he did. First, we can perhaps say that Paul had not meant for this beloved Brother to return back to the Church at Philippi before he saw how it was going to go with him at Rome, but only Timothy, however, Epaphroditus’ illness and the word of it getting back to the Church at Philippi changed those plans, therefore, he now writes, “I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.” (Philippians 2:28) (KJV). The English phrase “more carefully” is perhaps not the best translation for the Greek word used here spoudaioteros (by the way it is the only time this word is used in the New Testament) which truly means more speedily, that is, sooner than otherwise: more prompt, more earnestly, or more diligently. We see by this word that it probably was not Paul’s intention that Epaphroditus leave him, but for his sickness and the severity of it. Paul knew that after the word had gotten back to the Church in Philippi that they would be sorely distressed, disheveled, and disarrayed not knowing if he had recovered or if he would be permanently damaged by his illness.
Therefore, Paul understanding this decided that he was to return to Philippi and not be there with Paul preaching the Gospel until the conclusion of Paul’s case at Rome. Paul wanted the Brothers and Sisters in the Church at Philippi to be gladdened when they could physically see Epaphroditus’ full and complete recovery and also that he would not be grieved over feeling responsible for him even getting so ill in the first place because of his service to Paul while he was imprisoned in Rome, somewhat as he wrote to the Corinthian Church after causing them sorrow by commanding them to remove a non-repentant Brother from the Church when he wrote these words, “But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow. For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?” (2 Corinthians 2:1-2) (NKJV). It the fact that he knew that they would rejoice over seeing Brother Epaphroditus alive and well and this would cause his sorrow to wear off or die down. Now we know that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) (NKJV), but in this case with Brother Epaphroditus Paul wanted that they themselves see how well he had recovered, and what reason they had for the thankfulness and joy upon his account. Sending him back before the conclusion of his second trial in Rome hurt Paul, but at the same time gave himself the pleasure of comforting the Philippian Church by the sight of so dear a friend.
Paul wanted them to “Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:” (Philippians 2:29) (KJV), meaning welcome him back as if they would welcome our Lord Jesus Christ Himself into their fellowship and place his value to their fellowship of high regard such as they would our Lord Jesus Christ, seeing how he labored for the sake of Christ and the Gospel to the point of ill-health, but now this servant of the Lord Jesus Christ has been restored to health by our Lord Jesus and sent back to you and should be regarded as a fresh gift from God, just as Paul wrote in these words to Brother Timothy is how Brother Epaphroditus is to be viewed by them, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.” (1 Timothy 5:17) (NKJV). For it was, “Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.” (Philippians 2:30) (KJV). It was Epaphroditus who embarked on the long journey from Philippi to Rome to do physically what Paul could no longer do and that is preach the Gospel in Rome doing what they were unable to do collectively. Epaphroditus worked himself far beyond his strength with his frequent bold preaching of the Gospel of Grace. Epaphroditus appeared to have worked so hard to get the truth of God, truth of the Gospel, truth of Christ and His Blood being the only atonement for man’s sin that he disregarded his own personal safety (Acts 15:26) and did not take care to his own nourishment perhaps by not eating properly or even enough for that matter, but it all led to his physical decrease in strength.
“Paul even in his incarceration was much more concerned with the work of Christ, that is, the preaching of the Gospel than with his own personal safety, that is, whether he would be executed or not. In Brother Epaphroditus Paul found someone who was like-minded and it was difficult to send him back to Philippi after what transpired with Paul at his first trial of being there all alone, but because Paul was concerned more for those at the Church at Philippi and not causing them undue grief for not knowing the complete status of Epaphroditus, he gladly sent him back home knowing that his presence would comfort them and that he being full grown in the faith could stand alone, but knowing that he was never alone because our Lord Jesus Christ was always with him.” Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
“It seems he had caught his illness in the work of God: It was for the work of Christ that he was nigh to death, and to supply their lack of service to him. The apostle does not blame him for his indiscretion in hazarding his life, but reckons they ought to love him the more upon that account. Observe, (1.) Those who truly love Christ, and are hearty in the interests of his kingdom, will think it very well worth their while to hazard their health and life to do him service, and promote the edification of his church. (2.) They were to receive him with joy, as newly recovered from sickness. It is an endearing consideration to have our mercies restored to us after danger of removal, and should make them the more valued and improved. What is given us in answer to prayer should be received with great thankfulness and joy.” Matthew Henry
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reade, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…