Have you ever heard someone say they simply can’t be like Christ because He was perfect and they are not? Have you ever thought this yourself? Too often, even those who believe in Jesus Christ, fall victim to believing it is impossible to change the way they think and live because they are “human.”
While we all fall short, Paul’s letter to the Church of Philippi reminds us it is not only possible for mere humans to sanctify their thinking, it is also something they should strive to do! In this section of Philippians, Paul introduces the church to two mere men who helped in his ministry, Timothy and Epaphroditus.
Warren W. Wiersbe describes them as “two ordinary saints, who were not apostles or spectacular miracle workers. [Paul] wanted us to know that the submissive mind is not a luxury enjoyed by a chosen few; it is a necessity for Christian joy, and an opportunity for all believers.” So, if you have ever felt like having a mind shift was impossible because you are only human, this one’s for you.
For this joy-filled series, we are following along with Warren W. Wiersbe’s outstanding commentary of Philippians, Be Joyful: Even When Things Go Wrong, You Can Have Joy. We encourage you to pick up your own copy to study this book with us. This week we are focusing on Philippians 2:19-30.
An Introduction to Timothy and Epaphroditus
In this section of the Book of Philippians, Paul is telling the church that Timothy and Epaphroditus are headed their way. This short section of the chapter introduces the two men who assisted Paul in some of his most difficult missionary journeys.
Timothy was the son of a Jewish mother and a Gentile father, but Paul considered him a “dearly beloved son” in the faith. Timothy replaced John Mark on Paul’s missionary journeys, and he acted as a substitute for Paul when Paul was unable to visit Philippi himself.
Epaphroditus was a full Gentile and a member of the Philippian church. Epaphroditus bravely risked his health and his life for the sake of the gospel. It was Epaphroditus who traveled to Rome when Paul was imprisoned to bring him aid.
Characteristics of the Priceless Pair We Should Emulate
In this section of the letter, Paul commends these two men to the church of Philippi. These ordinary men developed and cultivated the “mind of Christ” and learn to serve. Wiersbe writes, “The submissive mind is not the product of an hour’s sermon, or a week’s seminar, or even a year’s service. The submissive mind grows in us as, like Timothy, we yield to the Lord and seek to serve others.”
If we pay careful attention, we can see what made these men worthy of leaving a legacy of faith.
Having A Servant’s Mind
“I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”
– Philippians 2:20-21
Timothy (who Paul referred to in these verses) did not think about his own interests; he genuinely cared for others’ well-being and spiritual welfare. We often spend so much time thinking about ourselves and our needs rather than using our time and energy to serve the Lord. In contrast, Timothy was continuously looking out for others and finding ways to serve them.
Having A Servant’s Training
“But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.”
– Philippians 2:22
To serve, we must be taught how to serve. According to Wiersbe, “[Paul] left [Timothy] behind to become part of the church fellowship in Derbe and Lystra, and it was in that fellowship that Timothy grew in spiritual matters and learned how to serve the Lord.” By becoming involved in a church, learning the Word, and watching the apostles in their ministry, Timothy received the training needed to serve well.
Being a Balanced Christian
“But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.”
– Philippians 2:25
Paul describes Epaphroditus is three ways – a brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier. Epaphroditus knew how to balance all three. He understood the importance of fellowship as well as the furtherance of the gospel. Some Christians focus on one or the other, but Epaphroditus modeled balanced Christianity.
Being a Burdened Christian
“For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill.”
– Philippians 2:26
Epaphroditus, like Timothy, thought of others instead of himself. For example, he was so burdened when he heard how Paul was suffering in Rome. Likewise, when he was ill, instead of worrying about himself, he was burdened for the church members because they were worried about him. He focused on others – not himself.
Rewards and Blessing Comes to Those Who Submit and Serve
“So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.”
– Philippians 2:29-30
Ultimately, the pair’s priceless service to Christ brought them great joy, which is the reward in itself. Both Timothy and Epaphroditus were men Paul trusted to further the gospel – so much so Timothy went in his place as Paul encouraged the church to honor Epaphroditus. In this verse, Paul reminds us when people bless our lives with no thought of reward or recognition, we should honor them. When we honor their service to the Lord, we are glorifying the Lord.