In this passage Paul talks about 2 guys who have become close ministry associates, 2 guys that he speaks very highly about. One of them, Timothy, is more well known than the other. Epaphroditus is introduced to us here in this passage and is only mentioned in this letter to the Philippians. But I think he is a man I would have enjoyed knowing.
His life had been radically changed – He was no doubt born into a pagan family as his name indicates, possibly named after the greek goddess Aphrodite. But somewhere along the line, perhaps when Paul made his missionary journey to Philippi (Acts 16), God took hold of his life and revolutionized him. He was not content to just let Jesus be a part of his life. Jesus was his life and it shows by the way that Paul talks about him.
He genuinely cared about people – When the Philippians decided that they wanted to send Paul a care package to help meet his needs while he was in prison Epaphroditus was the man who volunteered to deliver it. He did this because he cared about Paul and wanted to demonstrate it tangibly. Verse 26 also indicates how much he cares about and longs for his friends in Philippi. He was a people person found joy in serving and caring for others.
He was a a gospel ambassador – Paul describes him as a “brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier.” All you have to do is read Paul’s letters to know that he tells it like it is when it comes to people who have hurt him or helped him. Epaphroditus had been an incredible blessing to Paul in a time of need and receives a strong commendation from the apostle. No doubt his stock soared even higher in the eyes of the Philippians.
He was a risk taker – verse 30 says, “… risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.” E was not a complacent Christian. He did not always take the easy road. He was willing to take risks in order to serve God. Philippi was about 800 miles from Rome. The trek would take 1-2 months. This was a dangerous task. But E was undaunted – and it almost cost him his life. But as far as he was concerned it was worth it.
Indeed, I think I would enjoy knowing Epaphroditus and hearing his story.