Who is Epaphrodites?

In my recent reading of the Bible, I have been drawn to the “minor” characters. Usually when I study, I am focusing on the “key”players such as Peter or Paul and those whose names are repeated over and over. When reading Acts, I noticed the author referred to many believers by name but I could not find them mentioned again. Others, if I searched the epistles, I could catch glimpses of their faithful ministry. I was comforted to see that God wanted them mentioned by name because God sees all of our “small” acts of faithfulness, nothing glamorous but precious to God.

I once attended a church which met in a school cafeteria and each Sunday about twenty people from the congregation brought in the sound system, arranged the benches and prepared the place we would meet. Each week those faithful people came hours early to set up for others who would come and take for granted how everything just came together.

Maybe you feel, as I often do, that you play a “minor” part in God’s kingdom. Unlike the way the world views things, the Lord does not measure value like we do. God takes note of every one of the hidden actions we perform because of our love for Him. And after all, no matter how much attention and recognition anyone receives, there is really only key player – Jesus.

Read Philippians 2:14-30. Paul writes about two of his co-workers Timothy (19-24) and Epaphrodites ( 2:25-30, 4:18). How does Paul describe Timothy? What is Epaphrodites’ role in the ministry? What 3 titles does Paul give him (2:25) Describe the varying level of commitment each one involves. In 4:18, Paul reveals a (secondary) purpose for writing this letter. What is it?  

In verse 17, Paul says he is being poured out like a drink offering? What does this mean? How does this apply to us today?

5 thoughts on “Who is Epaphrodites?

  1. Timothy is described as a kindred spirit, genuinely concerned for the church at Philippi’s welfare, seeking after the interest of Jesus Christ. He has proven worth, serving with Paul in
    sharing the gospel. Reading these verses has me wondering if I am a kindred spirit with Jesus, GENUINELY concerned for His church today. Do I have proven worth, serving in the sharing of the gospel or am I only sometimes GENUINELY concerned for Jesus’ present day church and many times seeking my own interests (man’s interests — tasks to do) and not those of Jesus Christ. Paul was focused on one thing……..sharing the gospel.

    For Paul to have NO ONE else of kindred spirit……..GENUINELY concerned for the Philippian church’s welfare is pretty thought provoking. Would Paul consider me as a no one else………(not)genuinely concerned for Jesus’ church today? I’m asking myself…….is all that is done in a church necessary? How much of it is necessary and how much of it is unnecessary in sharing the gospel, our one purpose in life.

    Epaphrodites, Paul’s brother, fellow worker, fellow soldier, (their messenger), and minister to Paul’s need. Epaphrodites was distressed because he heard that the Philippian church heard that he was sick. He was not concerned about himself but them. He was sent eagerly by Paul, so that when they see him, they may rejoice. I believe that Paul is glad when they rejoice as he is less concerned about them when they are rejoicing. It’s like us today, when we know our loved ones are joyful, we are too. And we are not so concerned about them as when they are distressed.

    As a brother, he ministered to Paul. As Paul’s fellow worker, he furthers the gospel, and as a soldier, he is willing to risk his life for the work of Christ. It seems soldier has a greater level of commitment as he is willing to die for the work of Christ.
    As I think of persecution (here on our own land), I often think about soldiers, specifically a soldier of Christ and being willing to die for the work of Christ. Am I this soldier for Christ?

    Is the secondary purpose to let them know he is going to die? Being poured out as a drink offering…….dying for Christ. Am I (ready and) willing to die for Christ today?


  2. I pray for churches today to return to their first love………….to have a love so deep for Jesus, that they (we) will put aside all unnecessary agendas and focus on sharing the gospel.


  3. Paul describes Timothy as the sole disciple who shares Paul’s concern over the Philippians’ wellbeing. Compared to others who put their own interests first over working for Christ, Timothy is seen as loyal and committed in carrying out what he’s gained under Paul’s training–that of proclaiming the gospel. I don’t know if I could fill a role as huge as Timothy, being a student/trainee of Paul–the most famous missionary of all–whose ministry covered a vast area. I do know I can reach out in my small corner of the world–my extended family who have not been shared the good news. That’s more my capability. I suppose the main thing is the desire to “go”, as that was Jesus’ instruction, to make disciples.

    Epaphrodites’ role in the ministry was as a go-between for Paul and the Philippians, a messenger when Paul could not be with them himself. “E” bought money from the Philippians to Paul to aid him, then returned to them with Paul’s note of thanks.

    Paul refers to “E” as a brother, co-worker, and soldier. The first being as a kindred spirit to Paul, sharing in a kinship of being the children of God; the second as co-worker–laboring together for the sake of Christ and furtherance of His saving grace; and last as soldier, which commands a vigilant, defensive stance to protect the faith.

    Verse 4:18 reveals Paul’s gratitude for his needs being met with more than enough by the Philippians’ gifts.

    Simply put, Paul lived to serve, knowing full well that he might be put to death (poured out like a drink offering) for sharing Christ. He considered his work for Christ among the Philippians to be well worth the risks–he already saw the fruits of his labor through their adopting the values and practices he taught.

    As a Christian I am gratified to know my Jesus gives hope and purpose in life. All my needs are provided for, and my eternity is secured. Am I too comfortable with this security? It starts me thinking as to what else I can do. To complement my role as wife and mother. I am a work in progress…


  4. Oh Lynn! This is a true beauty. I, too, have noticed those names of the “little people,” in the the Bible, and you have given me new, comforting and refreshing insight into God’s perspective on all this. And I love your conclusion — that there is only ever one main player, and that is JESUS.


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