Friday, August 12, 2011

Epaphroditus - Pastor Extraordinaire

"I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill." (Philippians 2:25-26, ESV)

One of the greatest gifts to the church was the fact that Paul was merely under house arrest during his first imprisonment in Rome. He was allowed to "receive" any and all visitors to the rented house in which he was held prisoner. He had more comfort and facilities at hand although he was still chained to a Roman guard and unable to leave the house. Many people came and went. Many guards served their duty chained to the great Apostle and some of those guards were born into the kingdom as they sat and listened to Paul pray, sing, preach, teach, answer questions and write letters.

One person in particular who came to Paul was a pastor from a small church in the province of Asia Minor. Epaphroditus brought supplies and a love offering to the Apostle from the church at Philippi. The Philippian believers had heard that he had been arrested and was in prison and in need. As they did on previous occasions they undertook to meet those needs.

Sometime after Epaphroditus arrived with the love gift he took ill. He might have gotten sick on the journey. We do not have any details as to this sickness. All we know is that he was very sick and at one point near death. The church at Philippi heard that their pastor was severely sick and had almost died and was very concerned for him.

Paul decided to write a letter to this wonderful church and since Epaphroditus was able to travel he intended for him to take this letter to the church. Paul writes very highly of this wonderful pastor. He tells the Philippian church:

  • Epaphroditus served Paul well as a brother, companion, and even as a fellow-soldier

  • Epaphroditus was very sad and burdened because the church heard that he had been very sick

  • Epaphroditus should be held in the highest honor of a faithful pastor and messenger

  • Epaphroditus did not simply deliver the offering but he threw himself into Paul's care and assisted Paul with his work

We do not know much about this outstanding man who was the shepherd of the church at Philippi and a stalwart companion of the Apostle Paul. He is only mentioned in Philippians 2:25 and 4:18. His name is a pagan name it means "Loved by Aphrodite." The Greek translation is "charming." The Latin translation is "handsome." It was a common name during the Roman period and unfortunately tells us nothing of the man.

What we do know causes us to love and appreciate this great man! After his arrival he threw himself into the work of Christ as Paul's assistant and attendant. He worked so hard that he became gravely ill. What an example of a great pastor - courageous, hard working, devoted, and dedicated. May we see an army of Epaphroditus' raised up in these last days.

Fridays is our Heroes and Heroines feature. We will take a look at various men and women who have been used by God to shape Christian thought, theology, and teachings. These men and women have had a major impact on Christianity. Here we will attempt to honor them. We hope to expose you to leading Church Fathers, martyrs, pioneers, pastors and teachers of both the past and present.


welcome to my world of poetry said...

This was such a wonderful post Gregg, I have learnt alot today from this. Thank you.


Petra said...

You're such a good teacher!

Anonymous said...

Obviously Epaphroditus never heard the word burnout. May his tribe increase.