Those faithful in church attendance are familiar with some of the major characters of the New Testament. We can retell countless Jesus stories. We tell of the highs and lows of the Apostle Peter. We speak of the Apostle Paul’s Damascus road experience.
Yet, what do we know of Timothy? Or perhaps Epaphroditus?
It takes a Bible reader to notice these lesser-known but essential characters of our New Testament. I pray we’ll be Bible readers for this post.
Join me in reading Philippians 2:19~30.
The church takes you and me.
Thus far, Philippians 2 has been a highly theological passage and a highly practical passage. It has reniforced the truth that the church has been given grace in many ways. It has reinforced the power of the incarnation, death, resurrection, exaltation of Jesus Christ. It has also exhorted us to have the mindset of Christ. It has exhorted us to avoid grumbling and arguing. It has pleaded for us to shine in a dark world. The Apostle Paul now gets highly practical once again. This time he does not exhort us to action. Rather, he provides the example of two servants of the Lord: Timothy and Epaphroditus.
Perhaps you are familiar with Timothy. He is a companion of the Apostle Paul in the book of Acts. He listed as a coauthor on numerous New Testament letters. He is also the original recipeint of two New Testament letters. It is likely you are less familiar with Epaphroditus. He’s mentioned here in Philippians 2 and receives another mention in Philippians 4. When we read the Bible we tend to tell the stories of gigantic figures that we treat as heros. In the Old Testament we tell the stories of Abraham, Samuel, David, Daniel among others. In the New Testament we speak of the Apostles John, Peter, and Paul. Yet, time and time again we encounter names that are less familiar to us. These less familiar characters are not insiginficiant people. Rather, they are essential gospel partners.
The church takes you and me. For the church to be used by God to reach the world it takes all of us. Each one of us has particular gifts and specific spheres of influence. If the spreading of the gospel is left to a select few, the reach of this church is severely limited. If the spreading of the gospel is shared among us all, the reach of this church is limitless. Which do you prefer?
Self-giving service is needed.
I want to read carefully how Timothy and Epaphroditus are described in our passage.
Timothy: Shows genuine concern for the Philippian church, looks out for the interest of Christ, has proven himself, served in the work of the gospel. Epaphroditus: My brother, coworker, fellow soldier, sent to take care of Paul’s needs, nearly died for the work of Christ, risked his life to help Paul on behalf of the Philippian church.
I encourage you to read back through these descriptions and write them down. These are not casual church attenders or quasi-committed Christians. Rather, they devoted their lives to serving the Lord and spreading the gospel.
Self-giving service is needed. The church takes you and me but the church needs self-giving service. In what ways can you make sacrifices to serve the Lord? In what ways can you give time or resources for the spreading of the gospel?
Honor gospel partners.
Paul, when finished discussing the self-giving service of Epaphroditus, exhorts the church to honor people like Epaphroditus (see verse 29). When you see a gospel partner at work ~ recognize them and honor them. Encourage them. Say a simple “thank you.” Write them a note of thanksgiving for their service. Give them the honor they deserve.