Study Notes

Philippians 2:19-30


Paul was just saying how, in spite of his own suffering, he was rejoicing, because he knew that the Philippians would be obedient to his exhortation to get along and show love for one another.

But he still hoped that he could be there. He was, as you recall, in a Roman prison, unable to leave and pay them a visit. Not being able to go himself, he was hoping to send someone else that would both minister to them and bring back news to him.

2:19-21 Kindred Spirit

The most obvious choice of who to send was Timothy. He alone was qualified to be sent to minister to the Philippians. But his qualifications did not come from his physical strength, dashing looks, or powerful personality. Quite the contrary, he was somewhat sickly and timid. No, his qualifications for ministry were threefold: He had a kindred spirit with Paul, was genuinely concerned about the Philippians' welfare, and was seeking God's interests, not his own.

These three things should be vital points of concern to a pastor entrusting God's people to another minister. You see, choosing another minister - whether it is someone who will replace you, assist you, or be sent out by you - is very much like choosing a babysitter for your children. You are entrusting this person with people that you love. That you care dearly about. You want them to be like you, to have the same heart, the same balance of discipline and compassion. You don't send just anybody in to do the job.

Jesus pointed out that many ministers didn't have the same heart that He had for His people. He said in John 10,

John 10:12-15 "He who is a hireling, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, beholds the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees, and the wolf snatches them, and scatters {them.} {"He flees} because he is a hireling, and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep."

The godly pastor cares more for the sheep than his pay. He stands in the gap when wolves in sheep's clothing try to attack and steal them away from the fold. But who will the pastor get to replace him or assist him? It had better be someone with the same heart, who cares for the sheep. Someone who and seeks the interests of God rather than himself.

2:22-24 Trust In The Lord

The Philippians were very familiar with Timothy. They knew how devoted he had been in serving God and serving Paul. There would be no question in anybody's mind about his genuineness when Timothy showed up in Philippi.

Paul hoped that he himself would also be showing up on their doorstep sometime soon. But that was going to be up to whether or not he was released from prison. And look at how Paul looked at that: he didn't say, "I trust that the judge will find in my favor, I'll be there soon." He didn't say, "I trust that the government will see that I am innocent and let me go." He said, "I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall be coming shortly."

You know, if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we are people who look too much at our earthly circumstances instead of our Heavenly Father. Over and over the Scripture attempts to remind us of this. David wrote,

Ps. 37:1-5 Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass, And fade like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

We cannot be reminded of this enough, for we are very fickle and quick to lose sight of what we should be focusing on. Trust in the Lord, not in the circumstances.

Col. 3:2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

As Helen Lemmel wrote, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace."

Paul was trusting that Jesus was still in control. He would send Timothy soon, and trusted in God that he wouldn't be far behind.

2:25-28 Epaphroditus

In spite of Timothy's soon departure, and hopefully Paul's, Paul also had to send Epaphroditus to Philippi.

Epaphroditus was from the Philippian church. He had been sent with a gift from the church to Paul, but had gotten terribly sick. Deathly ill. Word got back to the Philippian church about his condition, and they were very worried. Remember, in those days, it wasn't just a matter of picking up a phone and letting people know that you were alright. Messages took days or weeks to arrive, if they ever did at all.

Epaphroditus knew that they knew he was sick, but didn't know if they knew he had gotten better. He worried about their worry, and longed to see them all again.

Epaphroditus was another example of genuine Christian love in action. He cared about the Philippians, missed them when he wasn't there. Worried about possibly having caused them sorrow. He was a great model for what Paul had been talking to them about previously - being others-centered, not looking out for his own interests, but for others' interests.

He is described by Paul as "my brother, my fellow worker, my fellow soldier, your messenger and minister to my need."

"My brother" means that they were both Christians. Two children with the same father: God. I hope that you feel that close relationship to other Christians - that they are your brothers and sisters. Every Sunday morning should be like a family reunion. Romans tells us,

Rom. 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;

Epaphroditus wasn't just Paul's brother, but also his "fellow worker." Just as Paul labored physically to ensure that the gospel would reach as many people as possible, Epaphroditus was right there with him, working to build the kingdom of God.

Not only did Epaphroditus labor physically with Paul, but he also labored spiritually as a "fellowsoldier." Wearing the full armor of God by living a godly and righteous life.

Finally, he is called "your messenger and minister to my need." He had taken the gift from the church to Paul, putting his own life in mortal danger.

2:29-30 Hold Men Like Him In High Regard

Saints, we need to begin to recognize those among us who, like Epaphroditus, diligently serve the Lord. People who serve week after week in the nursery, in the Sunday school, in set-up and tear down. In prayer, in ministry.

The world holds the rich, the famous, the powerful in high regard. Those who set the records, those with the most toys, those with the best skills. But in the kingdom of God, we should hold the most godly in the highest regard.

Hebr. 13:7 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

We should look up to them - not as people to worship, but people to imitate. People who set the standard for us to pray more, to know the Word better, to serve more diligently, to behave more righteously. Let us look around and imitate them as they imitate Christ.

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