Epaphroditus – An Unsung Hero of the Bible
“25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.” Philippians 2:25-30 NIV (emphasis mine)
As he closes Philippians 2, Paul recognizes Epaphroditus, who was a messenger from the church at Philippi to bring Paul financial support, and likely to serve as a personal attendant to Paul. While Epaphorditus is not a often heard about from pulpits, Paul gives him several important titles at the ending of Philippians 2.
“25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.” Philippians 2:25 NIV
This passage shows some very important commitments that were present in the life of Epaphroditus, which should be in the life of Christians today as well.
Brother – Epaphroditus was committed to fellowship. Paul speaks of a bond of fellowship he had with Epaphroditus. It is important for Christians to have strong fellowship with one another. While fellowship is important, involvement with the church needs to go further. Are you committed to being a brother (or a sister) to others in the church?
Co-Worker – Epaphroditus was committed to ministry service. Paul recognizes that he was faithful to serve and to work when a job needed to be done. Epaphroditus was not only committed to fellowship, he was also committed to service. Far too many Christians enjoy fellowship in the church, but don’t want to commit to service. They enjoy the fellowship, but neglect the service. Others may be involved with service and neglect the fellowship. Like Epaphroditus, we need to have both. Are you committed to being a co-worker for the Gospel? Paul also recognizes him as a…
Fellow Soldier – Epaphroditus was committed to worship. This speaks of a battle that needed to be fought. He knew how to battle for his faith in the Gospel. There are times that we as Christ followers need to make a stand for our faith. We need to contend in prayer. We need to worship God despite our feelings. We need to make known where we stand with Jesus. Are you committed to being a fellow soldier for God?
Messenger – Epaphroditus was committed to evangelism. Epaphroditus, according to Paul, had become seriously ill, almost to the point of death, performing his work to advance the Gospel. In verse 30, Paul says that “he almost died for the work of Christ…” Epaphroditus was willing to give his life to advance the work of Christ. While he wasn’t the evangelist that Paul was, Epaphroditus surely gave his all to ensure that the work of the Gospel would continue. We may not all be the most gifted speakers, teachers, musicians, or evangelists, but Epaphroditus shows us that we can still remain fully committed to the cause of Christ. While this letter to the Philippians announced the coming of Timothy, it was likely delivered by Epaphroditus. Though he may not be well known, the Epistle to the Philippians exists today because this obscure Bible character was faithful to be a messenger the best way he knew how. Are you committed to being a messenger for God?
We need more Christians like Epaphroditus who are committed brothers, co-workers, soldiers, and messengers. We need more Christians who carry a burden both for the local church (like the church in Philippi) and for missions (like caring for Paul).
I pray for the spirit of Epaphroditus to be upon my life. May I grow as a brother, co-worker, soldier, and messenger for the sake of the Gospel, regardless the cost. Amen.