Summary: Even the Apostle Paul needed people to lean on in times of need; this passage gives us a good look at two men who were a great source of help for him.
Philippians 2:19-30 – “Someone to lean on”
By James Galbraith
First Baptist Church, Port Alberni
October 22, 2006
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow 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 Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.
We can all list people in our lives that we have leaned on in hard times.
It is inevitable that we all, at sometime in our lives, need the help of others.
The apostle Paul, just like us, also needed people to lean on.
There are two reasons why the apostle Paul wrote this letter to the
Philippians: to let them know how he was faring and to address the
problem of petty squabbling that he has heard about.
Now that he has discussed these things, he takes a few minutes to share with his readers his appreciation for two people who have been very close to him throughout his difficulties in prison.
They have been people that he has had to lean on very much. It’s good to see Paul doing this – we might be tempted to think of him as this almost superhuman Christian who needs help from no one.
Nothing could be farther from the truth; Paul was very open with people about his weaknesses and his needs.
He makes a point here of thanking and praising two very special people:
Timothy, his closest protégé and
Epaphroditus, the messenger who brought the Philippians’ gift spoken of in the beginning of the letter.
Both men are examples of the type of Christian that Paul has been calling the Philippians to be.
Now, just before we go deeper, I want to point out that on many occasions Paul takes time to recognize the contributions of the women who share in the work of the gospel with him.
** Lydia, whose household was at the core of the Philippian church.
** Priscilla, who together with her husband Aquila helped mould Paul into a missionary of the gospel.
** Timothy’s mother and grandmother, who raised Timothy up to be a strong young Christian man despite his father not being a believer.
In this particular passage Paul is speaking of two men,
but we must not let that overshadow the fact that he saw women as partners in the work of the gospel and as people that he could lean on, too.
PART ONE - TIMOTHY
He speaks first of Timothy, the young man who Paul has invested many hours into training to be a servant of Christ.
Timothy has been the closest thing to a cell mate that Paul has had. He is named as a co-author in this letter and in other letters that Paul has
written from prison.
It is doubtful that he is under detention, for his name is never mentioned in reference to any charges. Paul also speaks of sending Timothy to the Philippians, but he could not have sent him anywhere if he was a prisoner!
Paul and Timothy go pretty far back –
in Acts 16 we read that Timothy, as a teenager, joined up with Paul and Silas on their missionary journey of 49-52 AD in the city of Lystra.
He was with Paul the first time they came to Philippi, just a few months after he left his home in Lystra.
His introduction to mission work was pretty intense - in a few short weeks in Philippi Paul and Silas, with Timothy in company, manage to: