Philippians 2:25-30

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

November 13, 2002


Paul has been encouraging the Philippians towards unity, getting along.  He’s told them that unity is a mark our citizenship:

(Phil 1:27 KJV)  Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

You can sometimes tell where a person is from by their “accent”.  Paul is saying that people ought to be able to tell where we are from by how we get along and work for the gospel.

He’s written to them about what it takes to get along with others.

(Phil 2:1-4 KJV)  If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, {2} Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. {3} Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. {4} Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

He’s given them an example of someone who exemplified this – Jesus.

Paul’s also talked about sending them Timothy because he was “likeminded” with Paul, and not one who would “seek his own”.

Paul would be sending Timothy in a little while to check on the Philippians.

Paul now introduces us to another person who also just happens to be an example of how to get along with others.

This is the man who had been sent to Paul by the Philippians to help him.

In fact, the reason Paul is writing to the Philippians is because they had sent this man Epaphroditus to Rome to deliver some financial help for Paul.

(Phil 4:18 KJV)  But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.

:25  Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

necessaryanagkaios – necessary; what one can not do without, indispensable; connected by bonds of nature or friendship; what ought according to the law of duty be done, what is required by the circumstances

I supposedhegeomai – to lead; to consider, deem, account, think

Paul seems a little reluctant to send Epaphroditus back, but he’s thought it over and realizes that it is very important to do so.

Epaphroditus will be taking this letter of Paul’s back to Philippi with him.

EpaphroditusEpaphroditos – “lovely” or “charming”.  It is a very Greek name and could also be translated, “From Aphrodite”, as in the goddess of love.

All we know of this man is found in this letter to the Philippians.

Paul uses four words to describe Epaphroditus:

brother adelphos – a brother, whether born of the same two parents or only of the same father or mother; having the same national ancestor, belonging to the same people, or countryman; any fellow or man; a fellow believer, united to another by the bond of affection; an associate in employment or office; brethren in Christ

The word means literally, “from the same womb”.  It speaks of a common origin.  It speaks of a common level.

Paul doesn’t look down at Epaphroditus “that delivery man”.  He calls him “brother”.

As believers, we are all on the same level.  We are all brothers and sisters.

This is “fellowship”, that we all have the same thing in common, our relationship with Jesus.

companion in labour sunergos – a companion in work, fellow worker.  We get our word “synergy” from this word.

The ref. is to a work or achievement which is more or less equally divided among fellow-workers [1]

Paul sees himself and Epaphroditus as being in the same business, working side by side.

fellowsoldier sustratiotes – a fellow soldier; an associate in labours and conflicts for the cause of Christ

Not only does Paul see Epaphroditus as a fellow worker, but a fellow “fighter” as well.

messengerapostolos – a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.  It carries the idea of “ambassador”.

This is the word used to describe the “Twelve Apostles”.  It is the word used to describe Paul as well.

In using this word, the apostle clothes the messenger service of Epaphroditus with the dignity of an ambassador.[2]

he that ministered leitourgos – a public minister, a servant of the state; a minister, servant; so of military labourers; of the temple; of one busied with holy things; of a priest; of the servants of a king

This is the word used to describe the kind of work that the Priests and Levites did in the Temple.  We get our word “liturgy” from it.  Paul sees the help that Epaphroditus has given as being a spiritual kind of service.

my wants chreia – necessity, need; duty, business

to sendpempo – to send; to bid a thing to be carried to one; to send (thrust or insert) a thing into another


No room for “better than”

Paul sees himself at the same place as Epaphroditus.  He doesn’t look down on him.


Balanced Christian life

Paul saw Epaphroditus as a man he had fellowship with, but also one with whom he worked and fought.
As believers, we need the connection of being “brothers and sisters”.  But we also need to learn to work and fight together, side by side.
Warren Wiersbe writes, “Dr. H.A. Ironside used to tell about a group of believers who thought only of “fellowship.” They had little concern for reaching the lost or for defending the faith against its enemies. In front of their meeting place they hung a sign: JESUS ONLY. But the wind blew away some of the letters, and the sign read—US ONLY. It was a perfect description of a group of people who were not balanced Christians.”

:26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.

forepeide – when now, since now; of time: when now, after that; of cause: since, seeing that, forasmuch as

he longed epipotheo – to long for, desire; to pursue with love, to long after; to lust, harbour forbidden desire

Epaphroditus was homesick.  The verb tense indicates this was a continuous homesickness.

full of heaviness ademoneo – to be troubled, great distress or anguish, depressed.  It comes from the words meaning “not at home”, meaning “uncomfortable, troubled, or distressed”. This is the strongest of the three Greek words (along with bareo, and lupeo) in the NT for depression.

he had been sick astheneo – to be weak, feeble, to be without strength, powerless; to be weak in means, needy, poor; to be feeble, sick


Depressing times

Jesus was depressed.
(Mark 14:33-34 KJV)  And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; {34} And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.

sore amazedekthambeo – to throw into terror or amazement; to alarm thoroughly, to terrify; to be struck with amazement; to be thoroughly amazed, astounded; to be struck with terror

very heavyademoneo – to be troubled, great distress or anguish, depressed

exceeding sorrowfulperilupos – very sad, exceedingly sorrowful; overcome with sorrow so much as to cause one’s death

(Mat 26:36-39 KJV)  Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. {37} And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. {38} Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. {39} And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

sorrowfullupeo – to make sorrowful; to affect with sadness, cause grief, to throw into sorrow; to grieve, offend; to make one uneasy, cause him a scruple

very heavyademoneo – to be troubled, great distress or anguish, depressed

exceeding sorrowfulperilupos – very sad, exceedingly sorrowful; overcome with sorrow so much as to cause one’s death

Jesus was very sorrowful because of the cross.
What did Jesus do?  He prayed.
Paul got depressed.
(2 Cor 1:8-10 KJV)  For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: {9} But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: {10} Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

pressed outbareo – to burden, weigh down, depress

despairedexaporeomai – to be utterly at loss, be utterly destitute of measures or resources, to renounce all hope, be in despair

Paul was weighed down because of the trials in Ephesus.
Paul used the troubled times to learn to trust the Lord more.

He had no one else to trust in.

Sorrow and sin
(2 Cor 7:8-11 KJV)  For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. {9} Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. {10} For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. {11} For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

sorry … sorrowed …lupeo – to make sorrowful; to affect with sadness, cause grief, to throw into sorrow; to grieve, offend; to make one uneasy, cause him a scruple

It is not a sin to be depressed.  But sometimes our sorrow can be a result of sin, a result of God’s conviction in our lives.  God can use “sorrow” to drive us to repentance.

If your sorrow is caused by an unrepentant sin in your life, then turn around and ask God for help.

Less of me, more of Jesus
(2 Cor 4:7-11 KJV)  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. {8} We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; {9} Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; {10} Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. {11} For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

troubledthlibo – to press (as grapes), press hard upon; a compressed way; narrow straitened, contracted; metaph. to trouble, afflict, distress

not distressedstenochoreo – to be in a narrow place; to straiten, compress, cramp, reduce to straits; to be sorely straitened in spirit

perplexedaporeo – to be without resources, to be in straits, to be left wanting, to be embarrassed, to be in doubt, not to know which way to turn; to be at a loss with one’s self, be in doubt; not to know how to decide or what to do, to be perplexed

not in despairexaporeomai – to be utterly at loss, be utterly destitute of measures or resources, to renounce all hope, be in despair

persecuteddioko – to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away; in any way whatever to harass, trouble, molest one; to be mistreated, suffer persecution on account of something

not in despairegkataleipo – abandon, desert; leave in straits, leave helpless; totally abandoned, utterly forsaken; to leave behind among, to leave surviving

cast downkataballo – to cast down; to throw to the ground, prostate

not destroyedapollumi – to destroy; to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to ruin; to perish, to be lost, ruined, destroyed

Things are bad, but not hopeless.

There should be less of us so there can be more of Jesus.

More of Jesus is good.

Depression and trials
(1 Pet 1:3-9 KJV)  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, {4} To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, {5} Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. {6} Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: {7} That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: {8} Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: {9} Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

ye are in heavinesslupeo – to make sorrowful; to affect with sadness, cause grief, to throw into sorrow; to grieve, offend; to make one uneasy, cause him a scruple

Trials make us “heavy”.  They make us full of sorrow.
We can turn our hearts from the season of “heaviness” towards rejoicing because of what we know to be the outcome.

God is refining us.  That is good.

Put your eyes on the outcome, not the present circumstance.
One day, there will be no more sorrow
Re 21:4  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

sorrowpenthos – mourning


Concern for others

Epaphroditus was depressed because he had been very sick. He was homesick.
Most of all, he was concerned about his illness becoming something that the folks at home would worry about.
Paul wrote earlier,
(Phil 2:3-4 NASB)  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; {4} do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

:27 For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.

he was sickastheneo – to be weak, feeble, to be without strength, powerless; to be weak in means, needy, poor; to be feeble, sick

nigh unto paraplesion (“alongside” + “neighbor”) – near to, almost to

For Epaphroditus, death was “next door”.

deaththanatos – death

had mercyeleeo – to have mercy on; to help one afflicted or seeking aid; to help the afflicted, to bring help to the wretched; to experience mercy

sorrowlupe – sorrow, pain, grief, annoyance, affliction; of persons mourning

I should haveecho – to have, i.e. to hold

Paul was blessed that Epaphroditus had been healed.

:28 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.

the more carefully spoudaioteros – hastily, with haste; diligently, earnestly (comparative form, not just “diligently” but “more diligently”)

sentpempo – to send; to bid a thing to be carried to one; to send (thrust or insert) a thing into another

rejoicechairo – to rejoice, be glad; to rejoice exceedingly

the less sorrowfulalupoteros (“not” + “more sorrowful”) – free from pain or grief; comparative form

Paul is sending Epaphroditus home so he’ll be better and that will make Paul feel better as well.

:29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:

receiveprosdechomai – to receive to one’s self, to admit, to give access to one’s self; to admit one, receive one into intercourse and companionship; to receive one (coming from some place); to accept (not to reject) a thing offered

Some have suggested that there might have been some folks in Philippi who weren’t that pleased with Epaphroditus.

gladnesschara – joy, gladness

suchtoioutos – such as this, of this kind or sort

in reputation entimos – held in honour, prized, precious

holdecho – to have, i.e. to hold

:30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.

the workergon – business, employment, that which any one is occupied

untomechri – as far as, until

deaththanatos – death

nigheggizo – to bring near, to join one thing to another; to draw or come near to, to approach

not regarding parabouleuomai (“alongside” + “to take counsel”) – to consult amiss

“Not regarding” in the Greek text is a term used in gambling circles. It means, “to throw down a stake, to venture.” Its adjective means “rash, reckless.” The word was used of brotherhoods who at the risk of their lives nursed the sick and buried the dead. Epaphroditus had recklessly exposed his life.[3]

It is thought that Paul may not have been in his own rented apartment by this time, but was instead chained in the prison, requiring Epaphroditus to go into the prison on a regular basis to minister to the needs of Paul.

lifepsuche – breath; the soul

to supplyanapleroo – to fill up, make full, e.g. a ditch; to supply

lackhusterema – deficiency, that which is lacking; in reference to property and resources, poverty, want, destitution

serviceleitourgia – a public office which a citizen undertakes to administer at his own expense; any service; of military service; of the service of workmen; of that done to nature in the cohabitation of man and wife; biblical usage; a service or ministry of the priests relative to the prayers and sacrifices offered to God; a gift or benefaction for the relief of the needy


Valuing self-sacrifice

Sometimes we think we’re sacrificing when we’re really not.
The government of Kuwait has finally been restored.  It is back in Kuwait City beginning the restoration.  The Kuwaiti minister of cabinet affairs was interviewed by Newsweek Magazine and and he was asked, “How will the people of Kuwait accustomed to much money and much luxury—how will they manage?”  And he, Abdul Raymond Alowati, replied “They will have to sacrifice.”  He said, “Instead of having four maids in the house or three, they will have to make do with two.”

-- Associated Press, 3-7-91

(1 John 3:16 KJV)  Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

A plane crashed and burned on a runway in Philadelphia.  The hostess was Mary Frances Hausley.  She stood at the door assisting passengers to safety.  When she thought all were safe, she heard a woman screaming, “My baby, my baby!”  With this prompting she returned to the flaming plane, never to be seen again.  When the burned wreckage was unsnarled, Miss Hausley’s body was found draped over the child she tried to save.  The caption of Time’s story read, “She Could Have Jumped.”

-- G. Curtis Jones, 1000 Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Broadman, 1986), p. 88.


It was close to Valentine’s Day, and the young reporter suggested to the editor that she write an article on love. Somewhat apprehensive as to what she might write, the editor asked if she knew what love was.

“Sure I know,” she answered with feeling, “Love is that wonderful feeling when you sit alone with your sweetheart by a lake in shimmering moonlight. Love is...”

There the editor stopped her. “Nonsense,” he snorted. “That is not love. That is just sentiment and moonlight. Love is getting up at two o’clock at night to fix the baby his bottle.”

-- Bernard Schneider, Deuteronomy A Favored Book of Jesus, p. 58.

It’s hard to tell sometimes why people do things.
Sometimes we do things so we will get recognition, so we get something out of it.
Paul says we ought to value people who are willing to sacrifice themselves for others.
George W. Truitt said, “It is not the talents one has that makes him great, however many and brilliant they may be; it is not the vast amount of study that gives mental enrichment to the mind and life; it is not in shining social qualities; it is not the large accumulation of wealth that secures peace and honor.  In none of these measured by God’s standards does greatness reside.  The true greatness consists in the use of all the talents one has in unselfish ministry to others.”

[1]Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964-c1976. Vols. 5-9 edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 compiled by Ronald Pitkin. (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (Vol. 7, Page 872). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

[2]Wuest, K. S. (1997, c1984). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Php 2:25). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

[3]Wuest, K. S. (1997, c1984). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Php 2:27). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.