Philippians 2C

Chapter 2:17-30

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  • Over the past four teachings, we have come to understand what it means to be positionally in Christ, by way of being ‘Justified’.

    • This aspect of the first tense of Salvation is what Paul says was a gift of grace and was not based on any effort of our own.

      • From there, we understood that because we have been justified, we are therefore enabled to respond contrary to our flesh.

      • Meaning, because we have the Spirit of God, we can see our lives and circumstances through a different set of lenses.

      • That lens being a Christlike prescription and not a flesh-like prescription.

    • And because of this we can live and view our circumstances in this life with joy.

      • From there we have been able to see how with this positional joy our walks in Christ (living) should reflect that reality. (Sanctification)

      • And walking out this Christlikeness requires a human component of “walking in a manner worthy of the Gospel”.

      • And this work is enabled and empowered by the Spirit for us to walk out well. Moreover, Christ is provided as an example in whom we can follow.

    • Tonight is no different because Paul is going to provide us with more examples by which we can imitate because they too are reflecting Christ in their living.

    • Outlining our time in the text tonight, we are going to see the following:

      • 1. Paul’s Service (vv.17-18)

      • 2. Timothy’s Service (vv.19-24)

      • 3. Epaphroditus’ Service (vv.25-30)

    • If I were to put a tag on tonight’s text it would simply be: A Servant and His Service.

      • With that being said, I invite you to open a copy of the scriptures and meet me in Philippians 2:17-18 for the reading of God’s word.

Philippians 2:17  But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.
Philippians 2:18 You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.
  • Paul continues his thought on rejoicing from the previous verse (v.16) regarding his anticipated joy in seeing Christ.

    • This joy of future reward would be a result of Paul’s laboring for Christ and knowing that the time spent with them was well worth it.

      • And because of Paul’s selfless service, there would be beneficial results from the lives of the Philippians that reflected Christ in all things.

    • So, we now find that Paul begins to transition the readers’ mindset on joy, from the joy of labor in living for Christ to the reality of the joy in suffering for Christ.

      • You’ll notice there is this sense of contrasting between labor in our living versus the legacy left of faithful service even in our dying.

    • There almost seems to be this single thread of thought that connects us back to Paul’s words in Philippians 1:21.

      • This is where Paul states that, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

      • That either way, if in his living or in his dying Christ becomes the focal point and the destination.

      • While I’m living it is about Christ and when I die, I get to see Christ! Both things should produce great joy for the believer in Christ!

    • Therefore, Paul says that “even if I am poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and the service of your faith, I rejoice…”

      • Within this statement there are two phrases worth highlighting or underlining: drink offering” and “sacrifice and service”.

  • The term “drink offering” hints at Old Testament language and is dealing with this idea of a “sacrifice to the Lord” or “for the Lord”.

    • Paul, using this language, expresses that he is essentially being poured out for the Lord.

      • In the Old Testament, when the priest would sacrifice an animal to the Lord, they concluded with pouring wine next to the altar.

    • This type of practice was connected to sacrificial ceremonies and symbolized the dedication of the believer to the Lord as an act of worship.

      • It’s this idea of sacrificing oneself in order to accomplish the work of the Lord – in a way it is emptying oneself.

      • “All that I have and all that I am I leave here to you Oh’ Lord!”

      • One question that comes to mind is, “Where is the Apostle Paul getting this imagery to use as an applicational point?”

    • Well, it’s not too hard to track that Paul is picking up on the very example of the Lord Jesus Christ who poured Himself out as our ransom.

      • In all things, the believer’s proper posture of service to the Lord is selfless acts of service for His purpose and Glory.

      • Friends, this is why the Apostle Paul says these very words, emphasizing this picture of the alter and sacrifice, in Romans 12:1.

Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
  • Paul’s desire for every believer in Christ is that they daily present their bodies as “living sacrifices”.

    • As Dr. Crawford Loritts once said, “The problem with living sacrifices is that they have a tendency to crawl off the altar.”

    • However, Paul is saying that the believer should be so Christ-focused that they lay down willingly to serve the cause of Christ and the advancement of the Gospel.

      • And he wraps up verse 1b of Romans by saying that this is our “spiritual service of worship.”

      • That brings us to the use of the phrase “sacrifice and service”.

    • The phrase “sacrifice and service of your faith” is a figure of speech which speaks to the sacrificial service of someone’s outworking of their faith in action.

      • So, if we are following Paul’s thought process accordingly, it seems that Paul’s present imprisonment and potential death is in view here.

    • If that is the case, then Paul is saying that his present circumstances, because of the advancement of the gospel, even if it leads to death, he counts it all joy!

      • That whatever the results of his hearing before Caesar may bring, Paul knows that his sacrifice for the Lord is worth it all!

    • This is a type of confidence that is settled and rested in a work and promise that cannot be shaken or moved – and in fact that is the case.

      • That the work of Christ on the cross has been finished!

      • That through His death and resurrection, we too not only have a life in Him, but we have an eternity where we will be with Him!

    • So, Paul is urging these brothers and sisters in Philippi to have this same joy and disposition in their present circumstances in life.

      • That a mind that is set on the Person and work of Christ, the life of Christ, and the mission of Christ, is a life focused on eternal things.

      • For when our perspective shifts from a heavenly perspective to an earthly perspective, we end up being stripped of the positional joy to be realized!

    • Well, it is after Paul uses himself as an example for the Philippians for having joy in suffering that he provides another familiar co-laborer, Timothy.

      • Check out verses 19-24.

Philippians 2:19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition.
Philippians 2:20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.
Philippians 2:21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 2:22 But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.
Philippians 2:23 Therefore I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me;
Philippians 2:24 and I trust in the Lord that I myself also will be coming shortly.
  • Paul mentions his young protégé or “spiritual son” as it related to whom he desired to send to the Philippian church in his absence and their well-being.

    • The purpose of sending someone of “kindred spirit” was to get a report of their present condition given the circumstances they were facing.

      • And in doing so, this would allow Timothy to convey information to Paul in which would give Paul a way to further equip the church.

      • Furthermore, this shows us something regarding Paul and Timothy’s relationship.

      • We can see how with the time and energy Paul spent with Timothy; Timothy was well equipped to take on such a role.

      • And from that time invested with Timothy, rendered a level of maturity that Paul felt was adequate for Timothy to lead by example.

    • Notice, that Paul mentions that his hope in wanting to send Timothy would serve as encouragement for Paul to hear of the Philippians’ present state.

      • Two things we find here:

        • Firstly, what a beautiful expression of the heart of a shepherd of the Lord!

        • Secondly, the practical expression of sacrifice for Paul to potentially send a close son in the ministry.

  • When you consider things such as church plants and sending out missionaries to foreign mission fields from a local church, the goal of sending is to multiply.

    • This is why a culture of church planting and evangelism is so necessary in churches today.

      • You show me a church that has a mission to evangelize the lost, I’ll show you a church that is committed to planting churches.

    • The goal of planting a church is not for that church to become a mega-church that is more interested in numbers in seats than sending people out!

      • And in the same way, the indication of a healthy church or ministry is identifying their rate of multiplication and sending of people.

      • This shows that their commitment and focus is on making Christ known and not their own name or agenda!

      • They will send both the people and the resources to serve the development of other Godly Church Plants.

    • What should bring the pastor, elder, and fellow believers great joy is seeing their efforts being expressed through the lives of others coming to Christ.

      • And in the same way, we find the Apostle Paul wanting to have a ‘check-in’ of sorts to see how this church in Philippi is doing in the midst of trial.

      • So Paul, seeing the needs of the Philippians, seeks to send someone out to check in on the people and Timothy seems to be a great candidate.

    • Paul mentions that he knew of no one else of “kindred spirit” who would be as concerned for the welfare of the Philippians like Timothy.

      • This begs the question: “Were there not trustworthy men around Paul in Rome or Caesar’s household who could go to ease Paul’s mind?”

    • It would seem as if Paul’s confidence in the Christian ministers in his immediate context were not of the “same mind”.

      • I say this because the word “kindred spirit” in Greek means “like souled”. Literally of one soul, same character, affections, and mind.

      • And Paul’s lack of confidence in these ‘other men’ is because, “they all seek after their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” (v.21)

    • It’s not a stretch to see that Paul is speaking about the same group of people he mentioned earlier in Philippians 1:15 who are preaching out of envy.

  • It’s like the parent who sends their child to daycare and entrusts the care of their child to the childcare workers for the first time.

    • They’ve done their research, as much as they could, and know this is the place for their child to be cared for while they are away.

      • Only, that parent realizes that no one can care for their child but them and decides to upgrade their daycare package to include camera visitation.

    • In other words, although this is a top-notch facility of care, there is no one that can provide as adequate care as me.

      • In the same way, Paul says that these men, although they preach a sound gospel, their intentions, character, and care are not to my standards.

      • Therefore, Paul identifies that those men do not have a ‘kindred spirit’ like Timothy does.

    • Again, not only has Timothy spent time with Paul and has been discipled by Paul over the years, but Timothy has assisted Paul in starting this church 10 years prior.

      • Notice what Paul says in verse 22, “But you know of his proven worth…”

    • The phrase ‘proven worth’ is one word in Greek which is dokime which means “standing a test to be determined genuine”.

      • In other words, Timothy wasn’t simply thrown into ministry the moment he got saved.

      • As a matter of fact, Paul speaks to this very point in 1 Timothy 3 regarding the qualifications of an overseer in the Church. Check out the text.

1 Timothy 3:2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
1 Timothy 3:3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.
1 Timothy 3:4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity
1 Timothy 3:5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),
1 Timothy 3:6 and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.
1 Timothy 3:7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
  • Paul mentions that there are certain character traits, behaviors, and stewardships that a man must possess before he takes on leadership in the church.

    • These character traits are things that the existing church leadership should see and recognize in their observation for considered candidates.

    • For if you are simply looking for an ‘overseer’ who contributes well to the church or ministry, then you have missed the point.

    • This was Paul’s point in Philippians 1:10, that through the Philippians’ growth and maturity in wisdom they would be discerning of their own intentions and lives.

      • So, Paul makes it known that Timothy’s career with Paul has been one of great conforming and shaping.

      • Paul has seen and examined Timothy’s life so much so to the point that Paul was confident that Timothy could very well take on this role in his stead.

  • Over the past year and a half, the number of Pastors retiring or dying in their pastorate has increased significantly.

    • It has increased so much so that the ability to fill those positions is little to none, causing Churches to go without pastors for long periods of time.

      • What would it be for Pastors to train and equip young men in their church who they have been watching to train them for ministry?

      • The work of ministry is too costly to waste time in searching for men to take on the weight of the pastorate when they should be trained in the church.

    • These men should not only know the Pastor’s vision and mission but the doctrine of that church so much so that it’s ingrained in who they are.

      • That as that young man grows up in that church, the pastor is able to come alongside him, and train and equip him like a Father to His son. (v.22)

      • That is the role of a Pastor to shepherd the flock and to care for them as if they were his own child.

      • Paul says these similar words in 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12. Check out the text:

1 Thess. 2:11 just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children,
1 Thess. 2:12 so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
  • This is why Timothy is being used as an example of service and sacrifice because he has proven himself, by Paul’s standard, for the call of shepherding.

    • Timothy’s focus is Christ focused and not self-affirming.

    • If you ever come across a church or ministry where that pastor or leader is more concerned with his image rather than the word of God, run!

  • Paul continues after his great commendation of Timothy and expresses his hopeful intentions of sending Timothy their way as soon as he got word on his case.

    • In the very midst of Paul’s concern for the church in Philippi, he himself is still dealing with a legal case before Rome that he is waiting to be resolved.

      • And according to the text, it seems as if Paul is rather confident in his ability to be released from prison so that he too may continue in his ministry work to Philippi and others.

    • And Paul’s confidence of release, as we see in verse 24 is based upon his trusting in the Lord to finish the work in which the Lord began in him.

      • And what great assurance that is to know that because Paul is still alive and has not yet been killed that he recognizes, there is still work to be done.

    • So, it is after providing Timothy as an example of sacrifice and service unto the Lord that Paul mentions another man much closer to home for the Philippians.

      • Check out verses 25-30.

Philippians 2:25 But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need;
Philippians 2:26 because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.
Philippians 2:27 For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow.
Philippians 2:28 Therefore I have sent him all the more eagerly so that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you.
Philippians 2:29 Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard;
Philippians 2:30 because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me.
  • Paul mentions a man by the name Epaphroditus who is a member of the Philippian church sent to Paul as both a minister and messenger.

    • Epaphroditus, whose name means ‘charming’, was sent to aid the Apostle Paul in his time of need by means of the church’s financial giving and his personal service.

      • However, we come to find that Epaphroditus, while on his journey to the Apostle Paul, becomes terribly ill almost to the point of death.

      • And what becomes such an incredible thing to witness from Paul’s encounter with Epaphroditus is Paul’s use of him as another example.

    • Paul expresses that through Epaphroditus’ ministry to him, that Epaphroditus had served him well and expressed great care for the saints in Philippi.

      • And because of both the urgent need to send Epaphroditus home and his longing for the Philippian saints, Paul felt it best to send him home.

      • However, he would not send him home without first expressing to them how great of a ‘sacrificial servant’ Epaphroditus was.

    • Paul begins his commendation of Epaphroditus by mentioning four things about him.

    • He mentions that Epaphroditus is a:

      • 1. Brother (in Christ)

      • 2. Fellow worker

      • 3. Fellow soldier

      • 4. Messenger/minister

    • Each of these traits describing Epaphroditus pleased Paul and would inform the Philippians that the duties and service of Epaphroditus was well received.

      • You may notice that there is this sense of a building order by which Paul mentions these traits – and the order matters.

      • This is because it is building up both the capability of Epaphroditus’ service as well as his service and sacrificial oriented heart!

  • Paul begins by mentioning that Epaphroditus is his brother. This simply shows that these two men are brothers in faith because they share a common salvation in Christ.

    • When you got saved into the family of God, you moved from being an orphan to joining a family of brothers and sisters in Christ.

      • This is how we are able to have such a large family of God because we have all be grafted into the body of Christ and take on both a new identity and become a part of a large family.

    • Secondly, because they are sharers of the grace of God through the death and resurrection of Christ, they are now able to co-labor together in ministry.

      • Therefore, they are both fellow workers of Christ and are able to service and minister to both one another and others in the body of Christ.

    • Thirdly, Paul mentions that Epaphroditus is a fellow soldier.

      • The imagery here is what you would expect, brothers in uniform, fighting side by side in an effort to complete the mission of sharing the gospel.

      • That when difficulty and circumstances arise, both brothers are in the trenches together as they encounter spiritual warfare.

    • Lastly, Paul mentions that Epaphroditus is a messenger to Paul.

      • The word for messenger in Greek is the word apostolos which means “a messenger”.

      • This word and role ‘apostolos’ is not to be confused with the office of Apostle in which Jesus designated 12 men.

    • We find in scripture that there were certain qualifiers by which men were appointed Apostles in scripture.

      • And we find that text in Acts 1:15-22, however the emphasis of the text will be found in verses 21-22. Check out the text.

Acts 1:15 At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said,
Acts 1:16 “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.
Acts 1:17 “For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.”
Acts 1:18 (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out.
Acts 1:19 And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
Acts 1:20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his homestead be made desolate, And let no one dwell in it’; and, ‘Let another man take his office.’
Acts 1:21 “Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us—
Acts 1:22 beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
  • So where in Jesus’ public ministry he hand selected His Apostles, Peter, by the leading of the Spirit states that the one who will replace Judas must have done the following:

    • 1) He will need to have been with the present Apostles at the beginning of the baptism of John until the day he was taken up (Ascension)

    • 2) And have been a witness of the resurrection.

      • So, this means this man has also been directly taught by Jesus and has been invested with the authority to speak on Christ’s behalf.

    • If these qualifiers were not met, then no man could be deemed an occupier of the office of Apostle.

      • However, we see that there is another use of this term “apostle” in scripture. Check out Acts 14:14.

Acts 14:14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out
Acts 14:15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.
  • We see the same use of the word apostolos in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8. Check out the text.

1 Corinthians 15:5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
1 Corinthians 15:6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;
1 Corinthians 15:7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;
1 Corinthians 15:8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
  • So, we see from Paul and some of his writing that there is a clear distinction between the Apostolic “office” and the gift of apostleship.

    • The Apostolic office belongs to the 12 in which Christ appointed.

    • And the gift of apostleship is simply those who carried the message of the gospel with God’s authority.

    • So, in this context, Epaphroditus is a messenger or an envoy for the Apostle Paul regarding the Philippian church.

      • And at the same time, through providing the financial gifts of the Philippians, he also serves as a minister to the needs of Paul.

    • It would be the intent of the Philippians sending Epaphroditus that he was to remain with Paul indefinitely, or until the court case concluded at best.

      • However, Paul mentions in verse 26 that there was a bit of a setback in those plans causing Paul to send him back.

      • And Epaphroditus being sent back seems to have been caused by one thing – The Philippians have heard that Epaphroditus had become sick.

    • As you can imagine, hearing of one in whom you hold in great regard and has been sent from you in service to others as being sick can be difficult news to receive.

      • Interestingly enough, the phrase ‘he was sick’ in the Greek is in the ingressive aorist which means that Epaphroditus’ sickness grew progressively worse.

    • Although the text doesn’t suggest what illness Epaphroditus had, it is certain that he was more concerned for the Philippians’ well-being than his own.

      • This seems to be Paul’s use of commending Epaphroditus in his writing to the Philippians.

      • That amid his service to Paul, despite his own sickness to the point of death, Epaphroditus still seeks to give his all to the end.

    • This deep concern speaks volumes to the selflessness of Epaphroditus and serves as an example for us to pattern.

      • This type of deep anguish yet commitment to ministry work is what we see Jesus anguish with profusely in the Garden of Gethsemane.

      • That in Jesus’ greatest anguish burst forth the reality of His greatest commitment – accomplishing the will of the Father.

    • Paul continues in verse 27 by mentioning that despite the sickness in which Epaphroditus was experiencing, that God intervened in a mighty way.

      • So, Paul describes this divine healing as a mercy from God.

    • That where the death of Epaphroditus would have caused great sorrow for the Philippian church, it would have caused greater sorrow for Paul.

      • Realize that to have Paul’s imprisonment on top of a near death experience would have been a difficult pill to swallow.

      • Yet the mercy of God intervened which brought about great eagerness and joy for Paul to send Epaphroditus back as a great encouragement to the church.

  • The reality for many of us, especially in seasons of great sorrow, is that it often feels unbearable to get through because so much is happening.

    • And the moment that you think it’s enough, it can sometimes feel like you are hit with another fist from life.

      • Yet, Paul shows us that there are moments in our suffering that we can see God’s divine hand of mercy in the situation.

      • Because the reality is that the Lord is with us in it all.

    • What I find so encouraging in the text is that in verses 28-30, Paul after witnessing the Lord divinely heal Epaphroditus, he sends him home.

      • The sending of Epaphroditus back home wasn’t out of disappointment for his untimely sickness, but rather for the joy and comfort of the church.

    • It’s almost as if Paul anticipated that the return of Epaphroditus to the Philippians would seem as if Epaphroditus had failed the mission.

      • I mention this because Paul relays the reality of the severity of Epaphroditus’ sickness three times (vv.26, 27, 30).

      • So, perhaps it is Paul’s desire to both reassure and encourage the Philippians as to their effort of giving and service to his needs.

    • Paul wanted the Philippians to be encouraged in knowing that their work was not in vain and that Epaphroditus has not failed his mission of service.

      • So Paul states that they are to receive Epaphroditus in the Lord with joy and to hold him in high regard (with great value).

      • Once again, we see the fatherly affection that Paul has towards the Philippian church.

  • So Paul, using Epaphroditus as an example of humility and service, models for the church a Christ-like focus in service and humility to others.

    • The fact that Epaphroditus almost died in his service for his fellow brothers for the sake of Christ speaks to Epaphroditus’ imitation of Christ towards his ministry work.

      • For when we as a body of believers work as unto the Lord, and live as unto the Lord, with a mind set upon the Lord, it causes us to move differently.

    • This is the service and humility of a soldier for the Lord!

      • A soldier who is on the battlefield has a single mind set on the mission no matter the cost.

      • This is Paul’s exact sentiment regarding his service for the gospel to the elders of Ephesus in Acts 20:24.

Acts 20:24 “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.
  • The lives of Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus serve as examples in whom we could look to as men who walked in a manner worthy of the gospel.

    • However, as we witnessed last week the ultimate example in whom has been set before us to imitate is Christ.

    • In all things, we must pursue our service to the Lord as living sacrifices.

      • Ones in whom daily lay our lives before the Lord for service to God and to our neighbors.

      • In all of that the goal in and through our lives is that Christ can be exemplified through our living.

    • Because in all things, our living for Christ becomes a light to the world which shines brightly in the darkness.

      • Let’s Pray.