You’ve got big names in Bible history, and then you’ve got Epaphroditus. We know a lot about Abraham, Moses, David, and Paul. They’re the movers and shakers on the human side of God’s story. But Epaphroditus?
He gets six verses.
But as one of my old Bible teachers used to say, they’re chock-full of meaning. Try not to hurry through them.
I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me (Philippians 2:25-30).
Have you ever noticed that one little expression in there?
Oh, by the way, Paul writes, “he nearly died for the work of Christ.” I suppose, if I were Epaphroditus, I’d think that was a fairly big deal.
Apparently, the church at Philippi sent Epaphroditus to bring a gift to Paul in Rome, but somewhere along the way he got sick and almost died. God helped him get better, and he completed his trip to Rome.
Another interesting thing: Epaphroditus was upset, not because he had almost died, but because the Christians at Philippi were worried about him. He cared for them so much that he didn’t want them to waste their time worrying about him.
That’s about all we know of him, but it’s enough to marvel at the kind of man he must’ve been. He had no idea that his story would be preserved in Paul’s letter for generations to come. As far as we know, he never preached a sermon, never wrote a book, and never led a revival. But he was willing to be used by God where he was to do what he could do to promote the work of Christ.
And he nearly died doing it.
Paul called him his brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier—pretty high praise from the plainspoken apostle. Here’s a brief word of encouragement. We’ll never be a Paul or Peter or Moses, and maybe we’ll never have an opportunity to die for Christ.
But let’s just do what Epaphroditus did—serve wherever we are however we can at whatever risk. At the end it won’t really matter if we made a big splash.
The only thing that will matter is, were we faithful where God put us? —Chuck