Useful Bible Studies > Philippians Commentary > chapter 2

Experiences in prayer

Philippians 2:27-28

Paul describes here his own reactions to the illness of Epaphroditus. It may seem to us as if Paul is just describing his emotions. However, to understand Paul correctly, we must remember that he was a very holy man. In other words, he believed that he should pray constantly about every problem, need or difficulty (1 Thessalonians 5:17). He prayed with faith, in other words, with complete trust in God.

So, Paul actually cared very little about himself, his own emotions or feelings. For that reason, he was able to serve God in some extremely difficult situations (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). What may seem to us to be a description of his emotions, often actually describes his experiences in prayer. A good example is 2 Corinthians 11:28-29 – if Paul were really worrying about all those things, he would be unable to do any of his work. Rather, Paul means that God impressed those things deeply on his mind; so Paul was able to pray for them sincerely and with power.

So, when Paul heard about Epaphroditus’s illness, he became deeply sad. For Paul, this was not an emotion, but an experience in prayer. He knew that he must pray much for Epaphroditus. As Epaphroditus became close to death, God brought to Paul’s attention the friends of Epaphroditus in Philippi. Paul therefore began to pray for them too. Then God answered the prayer for Epaphroditus and he recovered. However, Paul remained ‘sad’ – in other words, he still needed to pray for the Christians in Philippi, who were worrying about Epaphroditus still. When Epaphroditus returned there well, joy would replace their worry. This would free Paul from his responsibility in prayer for them; he would no longer be ‘sad’ about this matter.

Next part: Christians who deserve honour (Philippians 2:29-30)


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