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EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 25
Verse 25. Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus. Epaphroditus is nowhere else mentioned but in this epistle. See Php 4:18. All that is known of him, therefore, is what is mentioned here. He was from Philippi, and was a member of the church there. He had been employed by the Philippians to carry relief to Paul when he was in Rome, Php 4:18, and while in Rome he was taken dangerously sick. News of this had been conveyed to Philippi, and again intelligence had been brought to him that they had heard of his sickness, and that they were much affected by it. On his recovery, Paul thought it best that he should return at once to Philippi, and doubtless sent this epistle by him. He is much commended by Paul for his faithfulness and zeal.
My brother. In the gospel; or brother Christian. These expressions of affectionate regard must have been highly gratifying to the Philippians.
And companion in labour. It is not impossible that he may have laboured with Paul in the gospel at Philippi; but more probably the sense is, that he regarded him as engaged in the same great work that he was. It is not probable that he assisted Paul much in Rome, as he appears to have been sick during a considerable part of the time he was there.
And fellow-soldier. Christians and Christian ministers are compared with soldiers, Phm 1:2; 2 Ti 2:3,4, because of the nature of the service in which they are engaged. The Christian life is a warfare; there are many foes to be overcome; the period which they are to serve is fixed by the Great Captain of salvation, and they will soon be permitted to enjoy the triumphs of victory. Paul regarded himself as enlisted to make war on all the spiritual enemies of the Redeemer, and he esteemed Epaphroditus as one who had shown that he was worthy to be engaged in so good a cause.
But your messenger. Sent to convey supplies to Paul, Php 4:18. The original is, "your apostle"—umwn de apostolon—and some have proposed to take this literally, meaning that he was the apostle of the church at Philippi, or that he was their bishop. The advocates for Episcopacy have been the rather inclined to this, because in Php 1:1, there are but two orders of ministers mentioned— "bishops and deacons"—from which they have supposed that "the bishop" might have been absent, and that "the bishop" was probably this Epaphroditus. But against this supposition the objections are obvious.
(1.) The word apostolon means, properly, one sent forth, a messenger, and it is uniformly used in this sense unless there is something in the connexion to limit it to an apostle, technically so called.
(2.) The supposition that it here means a messenger meets all the circumstances of the case, and describes exactly what Epaphroditus did. He was, in fact, sent as a messenger to Paul, Php 4:18.
(3.) He was not an apostle, in the proper sense of the term —the apostles having been chosen to be witnesses of the life, the teachings, the death, and the resurrection of the Saviour. See Ac 1:22. See Barnes "1 Co 9:1".
(4.) If he had been an apostle, it is altogether improbable that he would have been sent on an errand comparatively so humble as that of carrying supplies to Paul. Was there no one else who could do this, without sending their bishop? Would a diocese be likely to employ a "bishop" for such a purpose now?
And he that ministered to my wants. Php 4:18.
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