Timothy and Epaphroditus
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be cheered by news of you. 20I have no one like him who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21All of them are seeking their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22But Timothy’s worth you know, how like a son with a father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23I hope therefore to send him as soon as I see how things go with me; 24and I trust in the Lord that I will also come soon.
25 Still, I think it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus—my brother and co-worker and fellow-soldier, your messenger and minister to my need; 26for he has been longing for all of you, and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27He was indeed so ill that he nearly died. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, so that I would not have one sorrow after another. 28I am the more eager to send him, therefore, in order that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy, and honor such people, 30because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for those services that you could not give me.
Paul’s letter becomes very personal at this point; he wishes that he could send Timothy to them, so that he could speak with them and return, bringing news of them to Paul. But he cannot at that time send Timothy, for he is needed there with Paul. The others there seek their own interests – this is quite a departure in this letter that so focuses on the positive. Would these be the same others who speak the word boldly in order to promote themselves over Paul, as he mentioned in 1:15-16 ? Whoever they are, Paul cannot send Timothy yet, for he is like a son to him, serving with him, and caring for him. Yet, when he knows the outcome of his case, he will send Timothy.
At this time, he is sending Epaphroditus. We have seen the name before, in our study of Acts. He was a loyal co-worker with Paul, and he had come to Paul bringing the support of the Philippians. Yet, during his time with Paul he had been gravely ill, and had nearly died. There were other dangers to traveling with Paul other than persecution! Now, Paul feels he should send him back to Philippi, so that the church there can be reassured that he has indeed recovered. He asks them to welcome him with joy and honor, because he had risked his life to provide the service to Paul that they could not.
Paul’s letter to the Philippians is very personal; he is not afraid to share either his joy, or his fears with them. In talking about the “others”, he speaks almost with despair; in telling them about Epaphroditus, he speaks with gratitude. The people of the church in Philippi are good friends, and fellow workers, saints, in the cause of Christ. Paul is also concerned with their well-being, their remaining faithful!