Useful Bible Studies > Philippians Commentary > chapter 2
During Paul’s time as a prisoner, it seems that few churches sent gifts to help him. Perhaps that should not surprise us. The places where Paul suffered longest as a prisoner were Caesarea and Rome. The churches that Paul had established were a long way away; in the ancient world, travel was difficult and dangerous.
One person who travelled a very long way to help Paul was Epaphroditus. He brought gifts on behalf of the Christians at Philippi (4:18). If he travelled by sea to Rome, the journey may have been more than 1000 miles (1600 kilometres). The church at Philippi had often given to help Paul on previous occasions (4:15-16); perhaps Epaphroditus took those gifts too.
Epaphroditus may have been a leader of the church in Philippi, clearly he was someone whom everyone in the church trusted. Paul’s description of him shows that Paul respected him greatly. Paul describes him by a series of titles; each one in turn seems to increase the honour that Paul gives to him. Epaphroditus is not just Paul’s ‘brother’ – ‘brother’ is the title that all Christians gave to each other. He also shares in the same work that Paul does. In fact, he even joins in the same struggle against the devil and his evil forces that Paul has (Ephesians 6:10-13).
Then Paul adds two titles that we do not expect. In the original language (Greek) he compares Epaphroditus both to an apostle, and a priest. As God sent the apostles (first Christian leaders) to do his work, so Philippi’s Christians sent Epaphroditus to take their gifts for God’s work. A priest acts on behalf of other people in the service of God (2:17); even so, Epaphroditus had helped Paul in order to serve God.
Next part: Illness, in the work of Christ (Philippians 2:26)
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© 2020, Keith Simons.