Useful Bible Studies > Philippians Commentary > chapter 2

Illness, in the work of Christ

Philippians 2:26

An important subject in the Book of Philippians is what a Christian’s reaction should be to danger and death. Especially, it deals with the subject of Christians who suffer these things because of their work for God. Paul has told us about his own situation, and now he tells us about a Christian man called Epaphroditus.

Epaphroditus was a member of the church at Philippi; he may have been one of the leaders. However, his danger of death did not come because of the work of his enemies, as Paul’s danger did. Nor was the danger a result of any efforts that Epaphroditus made to declare the gospel (God’s message about Christ) publicly. Rather, Epaphroditus’s troubles were the result of an act of love. Philippi’s Christians decided to send gifts to help Paul, and Epaphroditus willingly offered to take those gifts. It was a long and difficult journey. Either on that journey, or soon afterwards, Epaphroditus became seriously ill. However, he still managed to reach Paul with the gifts, and Paul’s friends were then able to look after him.

Paul explained that Epaphroditus was doing the work of Christ (verse 30). It is a work of God to carry out an act of love, even as it is to declare the gospel. Paul also said that, even in that situation, Epaphroditus cared deeply about the other Christians (verse 26). His thoughts were not mainly about himself, but about other people. He almost died, but God answered the prayers on his behalf (verse 27). Perhaps God cured him suddenly, or perhaps he recovered slowly – we do not know. Clearly, God was working in Epaphroditus’s situation, even as he was working in Paul’s situation (1:19-20). Now Epaphroditus was well enough to return to Philippi, and Paul was pleased to send him there.

Next part: Experiences in prayer (Philippians 2:27-28)


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© 2020, Keith Simons.