Summary: People of courage are people who put their complete trust in Jesus.
Epaphroditus: A Man of Great Courage
Text: Phil. 2:25-30
1. Illustration: There's an old story of a rich guy who threw a party at his mansion. One of his pride and joys was his new saltwater pool in which he had the ability to let swim in various specious of ocean fish. He had the party assemble along the edge of the pool as he proudly released into the pool his new collection of Great White Sharks. As the sharks swam back and forth in the pool the rich man offered 1 Million to anyone brave enough to swim across. Suddenly there was a splash and someone started swimming across at a speed never seen even in the Olympics. A man bounded out of the pool on the opposite side completely out of breath. The rich man ran to him and began to congratulate him on his courage. The tired swimmer said, ‘I only have one question… WHO PUSHED ME?’
2. In this text we meet Epaphroditus; a man of great courage.
a. Who Was Epaphroditus?
b. People Of Faith
c. Put It All On The Line
3. Let's stand as we read together Phil. 2:25-30
Proposition: People of courage are people who put their complete trust in Jesus.
Transition: First let's consider the question...
I. Who Was Epaphroditus? (25).
A. True Brother, Co-Worker, And Fellow Soldier
1. Paul begins this section by again giving a recommendation of a friend.
2. He says, "Meanwhile, I thought I should send Epaphroditus back to you. He is a true brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier. And he was your messenger to help me in my need."
a. In referring to Epaphroditus, Paul uses the imagery of a wounded solider who is being sent back home for rest.
b. Since he was certainly present during the dictation of this letter these words are spoken as much for his sake as for the Philippians sake.
c. He was sent there to minister to Paul's needs because, in this culture prisoners were not cared for by the state but by friends and relatives (Fee, 276).
d. Paul used some very complimentary titles for this man.
e. In addition to calling him a "messenger," he also was a "true brother," a "companion" or "fellow worker" (NIV), and a "fellow soldier," a person in active combat against the enemy (Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., The Complete Biblical Library – Galatians-Philemon, 207-209).
3. However, again this begs the question: who is Epaphroditus?
a. Epaphroditus had been the Philippians’ messenger, bringing their gift to Paul in prison; he no doubt carried Paul’s letter back to them.
b. Travel conditions were dangerous and harsh, especially at sea in late fall and early spring, and these conditions decreased one’s resistance to antiquity’s many diseases.
c. Because “Epaphroditus” is a common name, no conclusions about his origin may be drawn from it, but the context suggests that he was from Philippi (Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament).
d. The Philippian church had heard that Paul was in prison, and that he was having an extremely difficult time.
e. Their hearts went out to him, so they decided to do two things: to take up an offering to meet Paul's material needs and to send a dedicated layman who could remain with him and help him.
f. Such a man would have to be savagely brave, for by attaching himself to a man facing a capital crime, he would be leaving himself open to the charge of being an accomplice. By helping Paul the man would be risking his own life.
g. The man chosen was Epaphroditus. While in Rome, Epaphroditus fell seriously ill and came close to death.
h. News of his illness reached Philippi. And in turn, news returned to Epaphroditus that his home church was worried over his welfare. He in turn began to worry over them.
i. But God spared him, and after gaining his strength, Paul felt for some reason (perhaps to keep this illness from recurring or to eliminate the possibility of his being arrested) that Epaphroditus should return to Philippi.
j. What can plainly be seen about this man was that he possessed great courage.
1. Illustration: Courage is fear that has said its prayers – Karl Barth
2. True courage comes from God.
a. Joshua 1:9 (NLT)
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
b. Courage comes from God.
c. Discourage, which means to cause someone to lose confidence or enthusiasm, comes from the devil.
d. Think about it! Who wants you to lose confidence or enthusiasm about God or the things of God? THE DEVIL!
e. Who doesn't want you to lose confidence or enthusiasm? God!