Next comes Philippians 2:12-18. Paul encourages the believers to live and serve in such a way that the local church stands out as something different in a corrupt world. And by standing out, Christ will be glorified as the Light of the World.
The final section is an illustration of humility and unity. Paul uses Timothy and Epaphroditus as examples. Thanks to the book of Acts, other Epistles and two letters written directly to Timothy, we know a lot about this man. In this letter, Paul pays Timothy an amazing compliment, saying, "For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare." Timothy sounds like a man with a pastoral calling upon him.
We also learn a little about Epaphroditus. This man is more of a mystery. Epaphroditus is a common name in the Roman empire. It's associated with the God of love and might have meant, 'hansom." It seems Epaphroditus was the envoy to bring the financial gift from the Philippian church. We also learn that he ended up extremely sick and word got back to his home church. They were worried but Epaphroditus recovered and served Paul well. It also seems that Epaphroditus might have been the man to carry Paul's letter back to the church.
In this section of Paul's letter, we see a really cool picture of people working together for the sake of the gospel. Timothy was working alongside Paul as a missionary yet Paul is ready to send him to Philippi to serve the church there. And Epaphroditus is a gift to Paul from the Philippians. These guys have a common goal: the proliferation of the gospel through all the world, to include encouraging the Philippians to hold fast to the gospel right where they were. They are all Kingdom-minded.
It can be hard to be Kingdom-minded in our day. There are so many local churches to choose from. And once a choice is made, it's difficult to work with the ones we did not choose. In addition, we are consuming customers. Often people will partner with a person or local church that works best for them. This text however, shows a great deal of unity at great cost. Paul has nobody yet he's still ready to send these man back to Philippi. And Epaphroditus nearly died in his service for the Church at Philippi to Paul. What amazing unity.
I'll be preaching from Philippians 2 this Sunday (June 21st) at 11am. See you there!