Summary: Last week, we began looking at something that I entitled Christianity in Action as it was embodied in a man by the name of Epaphroditus. “Ep” was one of four examples that Paul mentions of selfless Christian living.
Opening Statement: Last week, we began looking at something that I entitled Christianity in Action as it was embodied in a man by the name of Epaphroditus. “Ep” was one of four examples that Paul mentions of selfless Christian living. 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 selflessly: Jesus, Paul himself, Timothy, and Epaphroditus. As I pointed out last week, 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. They were being selfish and joyless. Paul gives four examples for them and others to emulate. We focus again today on the fourth example cited, Epaphroditus, who was a source of joy.
Notation: This man is every pastor’s dream! He served. He sacrificed. He fought. He did everything within his power to assist the great apostle and to build the body of Christ. In fact, if my own children grow up to be like Epaphroditus, I’ll be a happy father!
Title: Epaphroditus – Selfless Christianity in Action!
Question: Is there really any other kind?
Text: Philippians 2:25-30
Background: As his name indicates "favorite of Aphrodite”, Epaphroditus came out of a pagan environment, born to pagan parents. Somewhere along the way, he had encountered the gospel and was one of the faithful leaders in the church at Philippi. He was so reputable and trustworthy that the church actually sent an offering to Paul via his hands to support Paul’s ministry efforts in Rome as well as to pay Epaphroditus’ salary to stay in Rome and be Paul’s assistant (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. For Epaphroditus, this whole affair 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.
Application: If I as your pastor had to write a testimony for you, what could I include? What kinds of things could I say about you? Here’s the kind of thing that I want to be able to say about you.
Key Word: In fact, Paul notes SEVEN wonderful CHARACTERISTICS in Epaphroditus that really clarifies what the Christian life can and should look like eventually in all of our lives.
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 [Have you ever been homesick?] and was distressed because you heard that he had been ill. 2:27 In fact he became so ill that he nearly died. [Have you ever been this sick or felt this badly?] 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. [Give him a heroes welcome. He did his job, even though he is returning home a little earlier than planned.] He risked his life so that he could make up for your inability to serve me.
Transition: The first CHARACTERISTIC that Paul notes…
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Recitation: Philippians 2:25 But for now I have considered it necessary to send Epaphroditus to you. For he is my brother…