Happy Heralds, Inc


by Dr. Fred Wittman

Philippians 2:19-30


Paul was in Rome in prison and a thousand miles away in Philippi, the Philippians were having some problems which they needed to resolve so that there is unity. In addition there was deep concern for Paul’s welfare and release from prison. This anxiety for Paul was reflected in the ministry and visit of Epaphroditus, their minister and messenger, who became very sick on his journey to Rome. This added to their anxiety and caused a gap in their ministry at Philippi. This presented a problem to Paul. Who would be responsible to direct the service of the Philippian church and service unto the Philippians? Who is available and willing to take this responsibility? What could Paul do?

Your local church today has many areas that need attention. Who will assume these responsibilities? The need for responsibility in service in the church at Philippi is reflected repeatedly in the local churches of today. Just as there are those around Paul who are not willing to assume the responsibility for the work of The Lord, there are those in our churches who are unwilling to take the kind of responsibility necessary to fill the gap and help solve the problems which hinder the ministry of the local church.


Paul had one, but only one upon whom he could count to take this responsibility. He intended to use him. So he wrote of sending Timothy.

    A. A Trusted, Model Servant of Christ (vs. 19-21).

“Now I hope in 0Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you& hastily in order that I myself, when ascertaining[know from experience] the~ things concerning you& also be heartened[well-souled]. For I have not one equal-souled+ one whoever will be naturally[legitimately] anxious about the~ things concerning you&. For all the ones are continually seeking the~ things of themselves, not the ~ things of The Christ, Jesus” (Phil. 2:19-21 APT).

Paul relied upon Timothy to perform the needed ministry in Philippi. No doubt there were many of those who were esteemed as servants of The Lord, who put their own interests before the things of Christ. We all know people like that, don't we?

For an illustration, note Paul’s desire in the late summer of A.D. 56 to send Ahpohllōs to Corinth to deal with disorders in the church there and to restore unity since one of the factions causing divisions attributed allegiance (1 Cor. 1:12 cf. 3:4-6) to Ahpohllōs (1 Cor. 16:12).

“Now concerning the brother Ahpohllōs, I earnestly entreated him that he come to[to the face of] you& [in company]with the brothers. And by all means it was |his| determined will that he not come now. But he will come whenever he have an opportune[suitable] time” (1 Cor. 16:12 APT).

Of all the servants of The Lord available at that only Timothy put Christ’s interest first, before his own interests. Paul is ready to sacrifice the presence, companionship, and co-labor of Timothy in Rome for the benefit of the Philippians so that they might be cheered when Timothy brought word back to Paul. Timothy was a trusted model servant, a good disciple whom Paul trained and cherished.

    B. A Proven Son in the Service of Christ (v. 22).

“But you& know[from experience] the tested proof of him, that as a child~ with father he served as a bondslave together with me in the Gospel” (Phil. 2:22 APT).

Timothy was not just a servant, but as a proven son working with his father he served as a bondslave of Jesus Christ with Paul. He labored as though he had a share in the business. Timothy’s labor gave evidence to his faithfulness. And the Philippians knew the full proof of him as a slave, because Timothy had been put to the test by actually working with the apostle Paul as a son in The Gospel. A son works with the father more diligently, more fervently, more seriously, and with greater devotion than does a hired servant. The son working with the father in the business of the family is a far better worker than anyone else could be that would be hired. “As a son with a father” in the family business Timothy worked in the family of The God. The work of The Lord today needs men with such devotion to Christ, men who will consider The Lord’s work a family business and be devoted to it. Because Paul knew Timothy was such a bondslave, he knew he could send him to fill the need at Philippi.

    C. Soon To Be Sent To Serve Them In Christ (v. 23).

“Therefore on the one hand, I hope to send this+ one promptly[out of the same |hour|], when ever I distinctly behold |how| the~ things concerning me |will go|.”(Phil. 2:23 APT).

Paul expected shortly to learn the disposition of his court case. As soon as he did, he intended “in the same |hour| to send Timothy with the news for a threefold purpose: to report to them of the outcome of his court case, to care for their needs, and to assist in restoring unity. Paul attested to the responsibility of Timothy as a trusted model servant and a proven son with the father in the service of Christ.


“But on the other hand I stand persuaded in 0Lord that I also myself shall come hastily.” (Phil. 2:24 APT).

Although Paul waited to see the outcome of his case, he expressed confidence that soon he will be released. When he was finally released, he intended to go to Philippi himself. But in the mean time, Timothy would be sent to fill in the gap to minister to them in their present need for ministry. Even though Epaphroditus would return he was not well and would need help.


Epaphroditus was their minister or pastor, the one whom they sent as a messenger to the apostle Paul in Rome with a gift. But on the way to Rome Epaphroditus became sick and almost died. Word got back to the Philippians that he was sick and they were concerned. Paul reported the facts and severity of his sickness and affirmed the responsibility of Epaphroditus.

    A. A Trusted Model Messenger Of Christ (v. 25).

“Now I deemed |it| essential to send to[the face of] you& Ehpah-fróhdeetohs, the brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier of mine, but your& apostle and public minister to my /need” (Phil. 2:25 APT).

Notice how Paul used joint relationships to describe him: my brother, my fellow worker, my fellow soldier. He used the prefixed preposition to ‘worker’ and ‘soldier’ to indicate his high regard for him, as well as his position in the work of The Lord. He went all the way to Rome even though he got sick. He carried out his responsibility even though his sickness brought him to the point of death. Only love and devotion to Christ motivates to that degree of dedication in fulfilling a ministry or mission such as this. Ehpah-fróhdeetohs was a trusted model messenger of Christ.

    B. A Concerned Dedicated Beloved Brother In Christ (vs. 26-28).

“. . . inasmuch as he was continually longing for you& all and kept being sorely troubled for the reason that you& heard that he became chronically infirm. For in fact he became chronically infirm nearly to death, but on the contrary The God was merciful to him, but not |to| him only, on the contrary, also |to| me lest I have sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I sent him most diligently in order that when beholding him again, you& rejoice and I myself be without sorrow” (Phil. 2:26-28 APT).

Ehpah-fróhdeetohs was a concerned, dedicated beloved brother in Christ to Paul and a faithful public minister, pastor to, and one on a special mission for the Philippian church.

    1. He was concerned for the apostle Paul.

He realized the urgency to get the money to Paul so that he could have his needs met in prison because prisoners of Rome were responsible to provide their own food and clothing. Rather than send it by a messenger, Ehpah-fróhdeetohs took it himself at the expense of his own health in the dead of winter. This letter to the Philippians was written in the late winter of A.D. 63. Ehpah-fróhdeetohs loved Paul and desired to see him again, to ease his burden, to briefly work with him at Rome, and to encourage him in The Lord by the effort to travel so far at the worst time of the year for travel. He was concerned that Paul be encouraged because of his long imprisonment awaiting trial and outcome.


    2. He was also concerned for his flock.

Ehpah-fróhdeetohs continually yearned for his Philippian flock (v. 26). He wanted to be with them and minister to them again. He became anxious for their welfare both spiritually and physically while recuperating from his own sickness.

         3. He was concerned for their anxiety.

Ehpah-fróhdeetohs became aware that they heard of his sickness and knew they would be anxious for him. He kept being sorely troubled because they heard that he became chronically infirm on the trip to Rome on their behalf. He wanted to return to Philippi and relieve that anxiety.

    C. A Concern To Esteem A Brother In Christ (vs. 29,30).

“Therefore favorably welcome him in 0Lord [in company]with all joy. And have[hold] the such like+ ones held dear in precious value and esteem[with tender affection]! because on account of the work of The Christ he drew near til death, since hazarding his natural life[soul] in order to fully fill up the lack of your& /public ministry to[the face of] me” (Phil. 2:29,30 APT).

Ehpah-fróhdeetohs fulfilled his responsibility. He risked his life to serve The Lord, Paul, and the Philippians. He was more concerned to fulfill his service to Christ than to spare his health, yea, even his own life. Ehpah-fróhdeetohs should be highly esteemed for his responsibility in the service of Christ. So out of concern that Ehpah-fróhdeetohs be properly esteemed, Paul exhorted his readers to hold in honor and joyfully welcome such servants of The Lord.


Because of the need for unity on one hand and the absence and sickness of Ehpah-fróhdeetohs on the other hand, the Philippian church presented a problem to Paul in prison at Rome. Whom could he send that was capable and would take the responsibility willingly? There was only one among all his co-workers upon whom he could count. Only Timothy put Christ’s interests before his own. Only Timothy, who served as a son with a father as in a family business and lived his life like Paul as Paul lived his. Only Timothy was available, willing, and ready to go. All others put personal interests before the things of Jesus Christ. No one else was willing to go. No one else made himself available but Timothy. Timothy was an excellent example of responsibility in Christ’s service. He it was whom Paul could use and the one Paul trusted to go in his place to minister. The attitude of Timothy toward responsibility in Christ’s service is needed today. There are so many areas in our local churches that need attention and so few who take responsibility. Too many put their own interests before the interests of Christ! Do you? Timothy was a trusted model servant who had proven himself as a son laboring with his father equal in enthusiasm to a bondslave. He was totally devoted to the work of Christ as to a family business. Could such testimony that was written of Timothy be said of you? Do you have a genuine care for the spiritual welfare of others? Do you put Christ’s interests first? Do you make The Lord’s work a family business? Are you willing and available to serve as Timothy was?

Ehpah-fróhdeetohs was another excellent example of one who demonstrated this attitude of responsibility in Christ’s service. He hazarded his life to complete his mission. He put the interests of Christ before his own interests, even before his own health and his own life. Such dedication to Christ is needed today. Can it be said of you that you hazard your life in order to fulfill service to Christ?

This need for an attitude of responsibility in Christ’s service can only be met when we consider Christ’s interests first and our own interests second. We must rearrange our priorities. Timothy and Ehpah-fróhdeetohs reflected such an attitude of responsibility and presents a challenge to us to do the same. They filled the gap in the ministry of Christ in their time. Who will fill the gaps in the ministry of the church today? Who will make themselves available and ready for willing service to The Lord Jesus Christ? Will you? Who among you is willing to consider your present priorities and rearrange them in order to put The Lord Jesus Christ and His interests first?

Now consider the practical aspects of our study.

Discussion Questions

1. What attitude in relation to service in the work of The Lord is essential for productive Christian living?

2. Why was there a need for an attitude of responsibility in Christ's service at Philippi?

3. Why is there a need for an attitude of responsibility in Christ’s service in your church? Cite specific areas of need and gaps in local church ministry which need attention and will only be filled by those who have an attitude of responsibility.

4. What is required in order to develop this attitude of responsibility which Timothy demonstrated?

5. How must the work of Christ be regarded in order to prove the attitude of responsibility as Timothy did?

6. How will this attitude of responsibility be manifested as demonstrated by Epaphroditus?

7. How will one’s priorities be affected and rearranged by adopting this attitude of responsibility?

8. How can you develop this attitude of responsibility?


What will you do to meet the pressing need and help fill the gaps in the ministry of your local church?

What steps will you take now to begin to develop an attitude of responsibility in the service of Christ?

To what extent will you go to reflect such an attitude of responsibility as reflected by Timothy and Ehpah-fróhdeetohs?

| | understood $singular &plural /the 0no article +masculine ~neuter
[ ]basic meaning
/ \ manuscripts divided

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Last modified: January 11, 2021