Summary: Last week, one of our goals was to provide a box top picture of what Christian preadolescence is suppose to look like. So many times, our young teens are frustrated with all the different physical, social, and emotional puzzle pieces that they’re suppose
Opening Statement: Last week, one of our goals was to provide a box top picture of what Christian preadolescence is suppose to look like. So many times, our young teens are frustrated with all the different physical, social, and emotional puzzle pieces that they’re suppose to put together without a picture to look at. You would have been proud as our deacons created a picture for them to shoot for.
Transition: Did you also know that the New Testament gives to us a box top picture that represents the lifestyle and experiences of a Christian? The New Testament gives to us a box top to look at as we try to piece together what our Christian life is suppose to look like.
Introduction: This Christian lifestyle or box top is embodied in a man that you may not have heard of before today. He has a really odd name. His name is Epaphroditus and he’s one of four examples that Paul mentions of selfless Christian living. It all began in Philippians 2:3-4. Paul wrote: 2:3 Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. 2:4 Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. He then proceeds to give four examples of individuals who were living this way: Jesus, Paul himself, Timothy, and Epaphroditus. It appears that one of the reasons that he’s writing about selfless living is to help two individuals (probably women) resolve a spat. In Philippians 4:2 we read 4:2 I appeal to Euodia and to Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Their disagreement was severe enough and problematic enough to be mentioned by name. This letter was to be read publicly to the entire congregation because their fighting was undermining the unity of the church and it must cease. In fact, the letter to the Philippians is known as the “joy” letter. “Joy” is mentioned in one way or another over 19 times in these four brief chapters. They were being selfish and joyless. Paul gives four examples for them and others to emulate. The one we’re focusing on today is Epaphroditus. Epaphroditus was a source of joy. Are you a source of joy to your local congregation?
Title: Epaphroditus – Selfless Christianity in Action!
Text: Philippians 2:25-30
Recitation: Philippians 2:25 But for now I have considered it necessary to send Epaphroditus to you. For he is my brother, coworker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to me in my need. 2:26 Indeed, he greatly missed all of you and was distressed because you heard that he had been ill. 2:27 In fact he became so ill that he nearly died. But God showed mercy to him—and not to him only, but also to me—so that I would not have grief on top of grief. 2:28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you can rejoice and I can be free from anxiety. 2:29 So welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 2:30 since it was because of the work of Christ that he almost died. He risked his life so that he could make up for your inability to serve me.
Background: The name Epaphroditus is drawn from the name of a Greek god. Have you heard the name Aphrodite? Aphrodite was the goddess of love. In Rome her name was Venus. And this man is named after Aphrodite. Epaphroditus is simply a term that means "favorite of Aphrodite.” This tells us that he came out of a pagan environment, born to pagan parents. However, at this particular time, he was now a Christian from Philippi, probably Paul’s convert. He had apparently traveled to see Paul who was in prison in Rome. Apparently the Philippians had intended Epaphroditus to be a personal assistant to Paul while he was imprisoned (2:25) and to give him an offering collected by the Philippians to assist in the ministry (4:14-19). Unfortunately, Epaphroditus had become physically ill after arriving in Rome. This news had gone back to Philippi. This caused Epaphroditus a lot of pain. He did not want the church to worry about his health and he wanted so much to fulfill his mission to Paul there in Rome. Paul, knowing all of this and needing to write them a letter anyway, decided to use this opportunity to send Epaphroditus back to Philippi with the letter as soon as he was well enough to travel. Paul knew what the Philippian believers had intended for Epaphroditus. Perhaps, they had sponsored him and pledged to support his ministry to Paul in Rome. They probably gave him a “going away” party and pinned money on him before he left. If they did these things, or things similar to them, for Epaphroditus, this could have been a potentially embarrassing situation. He had to return home without completing his term of service. To help ease this fear of embarrassment and to help answer any second-guessing on the part of the church in even sending Epaphroditus in the first place, Paul wrote a very glowing testimony for him, commending him for such incredible service.