Posted by: Brad Beaman | October 5, 2007

Christian Commitment, Philippians 2:25-30

You may have never heard of Epaphroditus. He is only mentioned here in Philippians chapter 2 and then again briefly in Chapter 4. But Epaphroditus gives us a great example of Christian Commitment. We will be challenged to a new level of commitment.

As we face the coming days we are going to need a new level of Christian commitment. What we find in these verses of scripture is exactly that, an example of Christian commitment.

You have all heard Handell’s Messiah and you love to hear the words to the Halleluiah chorus. Did you know when Handell began to compose that chorus he said, it was as though heaven were bursting in on to his mind. And for three weeks he withdrew himself, often times not eating. He did so to put his whole attention on composing this great chorus.

We sing this chorus and we hear this chorus sung, but we rarely if ever think about the Christian commitment that is behind the composing of the Halleluiah chorus. An example of Christian Commitment is what we find in our passage today. The example is of Epaphroditus.

Philippians 2:25-30

But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.

Paul has been talking of self-sacrifice for the cause of Christ through this book of Philippians. He has been giving us different examples. He spoke about Christ, the ultimate example of commitment. Christ who humbled himself to the point of death on a cross. Paul uses himself as an example. The great Apostle Paul is an example of self-sacrificing commitment to the cause of Christ. He also used Timothy as an example, Paul’s own disciple.

Now here is Epaphroditus, much less known than the other examples. It is refreshing to have someone held up as an example of Christian commitment who is not some kind of superstar. Paul has used Christ, and we acknowledge that Christ is the greatest example of all times in Christian commitment. Yet we ourselves know we can never measure up to Christ’s example. Even Paul’s example is so lofty and beyond what we could live up to.

So it is refreshing to have an example like Epaphroditus. Someone ordinary like we are.

Yet he is a great example of Christian commitment because Epaphroditus was faithful. That is the key to commitment, faithful service to Jesus. The Philippians had given Paul a great gift. They had raised a collection and sent it to the Apostle Paul at Rome. Paul is in a Roman prison. They needed someone to carry this gift to Paul. Epaphroditus is that man. He carried the gift to the Apostle Paul so he can continue his ministry there from the Roman prison. It was Epaphroditus the servant used to assist Paul in this way.

Epaphroditus through his great commitment is so concerned about the cause, that he works himself sacrificially to the point of death. He was so dedicated that exhaustion was about to take his life. Paul would send Timothy back in the future for the Philippians. At this point he is going to send back Epaphroditus. It is probably Epaphroditus who carried this letter back to the Philippian church to encourage them.

So Paul had a great message and it had to be entrusted to a faithful servant and that servant was Epaphroditus. Vs 25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. Paul had found Epaphroditus faithful and he gives him three great titles. He calls him his brother.

His brother in Christ. Jesus had made it clear that all who come into the fellowship of Christ can call themselves brothers and sisters in Christ. We use that term. We call someone a brother or sister in Christ. Unfortunately we use the term brother when we forgot their name, but brother should exhibit the way we look at a person.

The way we love a person in the fellowship of Jesus Christ. That is why Paul used the title, brother for Epaphroditus; he called him a brother, a brother in Christ. Paul called Epaphroditus a fellow worker. Paul, this great worker himself, could call Epaphroditus a fellow worker. It was likely that the reason that Epaphroditus was to the point of death was because he was serving Paul in the Roman dungeon.

It was a health risk to do the kind of exhausting work that it would require to carry the letter from Philippi to Rome and then serve Paul in prison. It would take great commitment to do this exhausting work. So Paul could call Epaphroditus his fellow worker because of the great work he had done. He could call him a title that represented an even higher level of Christian Commitment. Paul could call Epaphroditus a fellow soldier in the cause of serving Christ.

He could call Epaphroditus this because he was obedient like a soldier. Epaphroditus was trained and ready to serve. For Paul, also a great soldier of Jesus Christ, could call Epaphroditus a fellow soldier.

We are told in verse 27 how much Paul relied on this servant. If Epaphroditus would have died it would for Paul, have added sorrow upon sorrow. Paul expresses his sorrow here in the book of Philippians, the book of Joy. He had sorrow through his imprisonment and if Epaphroditus were to die it would have added more sorrow for him. That is because Epaphroditus was such a faithful servant.

Here was Epaphroditus, a man not gifted as a prophet, he did not write any books of the New Testament. There is nothing special mentioned about Epaphroditus. The only thing we know is that Epaphroditus was a faithful servant of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t his title or position that brings out his special recognition here. It was only his faithful commitment to Jesus Christ.

Are wondering, what you can do to make a difference? You are an ordinary person. You say, I do not have any special titles, any special prestige what can I do? Look to Epaphroditus. There was nothing special about him. He was just one person committed to the cause of Christ and worked sacrificially for that cause. That is the great example. Paul says in Vs 29, “and honor men like him.” We can look at Epaphroditus as an example of faithful commitment.

The work of Christ is carried on by the faithful few. The most common figure quoted is that eighty percent of the work of Christ is carried on by twenty percent of Christ’s’ followers. Those are the few who are really committed to the cause of Christ. Here was Epaphroditus one of those faithful few that stands as an example to challenge us to rise to the occasion to be a faithful servant of Jesus Christ. I look at my own role as Pastor. I believe my first responsibility is to be a faithful servant.

To stand in the example of Epaphroditus. But my next responsibility is to help those who will also stand commitment to Jesus Christ. To stay faithful even when the going is difficult.

You know Jesus was the greatest teacher of all times. He was the greatest leader. But even Jesus Christ saw the masses turn away from him. Jesus focused on a small group of disciples because that was his plan to train up a few dedicated Christian workers to turn this world upside down. Christianity has carried on by the few, not because of the masses. It goes on because of the faithful few that are really committed to the cause of Christ.

This is what we need today. That is the crying need of the hour.

For more people to be faithful like that of Epaphroditus. What we don’t need the masses that turned away from Christ. What we need are more with a true Christian commitment. Then we can go out as an army of God and reach this community with the message of the Gospel. Then people will look at us and see a clear example of what it means to be faithful and committed to the cause of Christ.

Vs 26: For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him.

Paul is speaking of the reason he was sending Epaphroditus to Philippi. He had been separated from his church in Philippi on a mission to serve the Apostle Paul. Through that dedicated service he became ill to the point of death.

News of this reached Philippi that Epaphroditus was about to die. They were concerned that Epaphroditus may have already died. Epaphroditus became grieved because he knew his church was suffering over the news of his illness and that he may have died on his mission of love, which they sent him on.

So Epaphroditus wanted to return to them so that they would know things were all right with him. Then Epaphroditus wanted himself to get back to his church. He wanted to be faithful in the work he had but he missed his home church. Have you noticed that when those who are faithful in their church are the ones that miss it when they are away from it. They are actually homesick when away from their church home.

That is what was happening with Epaphroditus. He was homesick. He wanted to get back and be with his brothers and sisters in Christ. That was the reason that Paul was sending him back. Because they heard the news of his illness and because he was homesick for his home church family. The word used here distressed is the same word used in the gospel for distress when Jesus when he was praying at Gethsemane.

Epaphroditus was a dedicated servant and had become ill and when Paul sends him back it will relieve the distress. Paul wanted the people of Philippi to rejoice when they saw their faithful servant. When they see Epaphroditus it will take away their grief. For Paul, when Epaphroditus recovered from the illness it was described as mercy for him. Because if Epaphroditus had died it would have meant great sorrow for the Apostle Paul. So for Paul, the final reason for sending Epaphroditus back is that it would bring joy to the Philippians.

Paul wanted this fellowship to again experience the joy that they knew. That is the basic theme in the book of Philippians, joy. So Paul is sending back this servant so they would again have their burdens lifted and know the joy in Christ. Paul wrote the book of Philippians and he wanted no one to malign the character of Epaphroditus. He was going to send him home on this journey and he did not want anyone to think the Epaphroditus was a quitter.

Paul wrote the letter to tell of the great character of Epaphroditus so that no one could say that he did not accomplish what he was commissioned to do. Epaphroditus was to be welcomed back as a hero on this return journey. He had been faithful.

We find out in verses 29-30 just how committed Epaphroditus was. It tells us he risked his own life. He laid his life on the line for service to Christ. Epaphroditus thought more about the needs of others than he did his own self-concerns. He served and performed the mission the church had sent him out to do. His service of Christ called him to risk his own life. It caused him to become ill to the point of death.

It is no small matter to be attending to Paul in the needs he has in the Roman prison. You are putting your life on the line when you care for somebody that is about to be executed. We need people today who are willing to take risks. The gospel will not get to the difficult places unless people are willing to take risks.

There are some things in the Christian life that will take such commitment that we have to lay our very life on the line and trust God with that. That is what Epaphroditus did. It says he was risking his own life. The words mean he gambled with his life. He was willing to sacrifice his own life to be a dedicated servant of Jesus.

Illustration: Taking risks in Christian commitment

My wife and I have a friend named Nancy who has served as a missionary in Africa. When she was on her furlough we began to discuss with her about her plans. The mission board asked her if she would take a new assignment. This new assignment was to open up a work with a tribe of people that have never had the gospel.

There had been a foreign missionary there, but he died of disease. She was asked to take his place and to go into the difficult place. As she prayed about it she knew the risks involved. But she has gone there and served faithfully knowing that she is laying her life on the line. She was aware that she was gambling with her own life to serve Christ.

This is the example of Epaphroditus. He laid his life on the line. And you know our Lord was willing to lay his life on the line. This is the commitment, the call to sacrificial commitment in service to Jesus Christ. We need to serve in such a way that we, like Epaphroditus, would be willing to lay our lives on the line.

I have heard of a faithful servant who often said, it is better to burn out than to rust out. In other words he was willing to take a risk with his life to serve Christ. Some harm may come to his life when he serves Christ but this is better than sitting, doing nothing to serve Christ and rusting out.

How Christians need that message. The call to faithful service. So many Christians just sit and rust when they could be serving sacrificially. Yes it is costly. Yes, you risk your life. But we need those who will really serve Christ. Paul says hold such as these in high esteem. We need to thank God for those who really serve Christ in our midst. We have so many faithful. We need to call others to be faithful.

Epaphroditus stands before us as a great challenge. A challenge to a deeper commitment to Christ.

The most important commitment you can make is the commitment to serve Jesus Christ faithfully. We have our example in Epaphroditus. Won’t you commit to faithfully serve Jesus Christ?

downoad the eBook on Philippians: Joy in Christ Jesus 

Philippians Joy in Christ Jesus

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Responses

  1. This is a powerful article, i found it very useful. More anointing

  2. I was really blessed by this teaching And I also teach on it in my church. God bless u

  3. This is one of the messeges that will transform, strengthen and provoke any true Christian to serve Christ faithfully and sacrificially too. This messege has blessed me greatly.

  4. Thank you for this teaching. I am teaching on Committment to God on this Sunday. I really appreciate your insight, God bless your faithfulness.
    Jean

  5. I greatly enjoyed this teaching on christian commitment. It shows now how to really sit up in my ministry(ushering). I must teach others on this subject because if as xtian we know what crowns awaits us, we won’t look at anybody but to do the work of Him who has called us.

  6. I’m deeply touched by this teaching, I also have made up mi mind to keep working for the master regardless of situation nor circumstance.I must let others see COMMITMENT DEFINED in me ,that i might influence other lives for good,all to His glory.God bless you pastor.

    Funke

  7. HIS anointing will continue to flow through you sir. GOD bless you sir.

  8. What a great message for the church

  9. I really learned from the commitment displayed by Epaphroditus. We need to follow his example and worship/serve our God with our whole being. I’m blessed!!!

  10. I’m blessed and informed by this article. i wish us heaven @ last

  11. I have been greatly informed and inspired by this article, God bless you Sir, it is worth sharing with my local assembly.

  12. i have been blessed by this message and would be sharing with the ladies in our church.

  13. I like this topic very much and i want to teach it in my youth ministry. How do i go about it?

  14. This is timely message for Christianity at this age God bless you sir.

  15. Do you have more references about Christian commitment? Thanks. I really appreciate the sermon.


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