Two centuries ago a group of European pastors came to speak at a conference organized by the famous evangelist D. L. Moody. The night of their arrival they all put their boots outside of their doors, as was the custom in Europe at that time, expecting that the hall staff would polish them overnight. The only problem was there was no hall staff in the United States. As Moody was checking that everything was settled for the night, he noticed all the shoes. Determined not to embarrass these men, he mentioned the problem to some of the students. None of them showed interest in the project, so Moody gathered up all the shoes himself and took them to his room. Alone in his room that night, Moody set to polishing each pair of shoes. Only the unexpected arrival of a friend revealed the secret. When we learn of stories like these, we instantly recognize that it takes a great man to be willing to serve without recognition. In Philippians 2:25-30 God tells us about a man like that named Epaphroditus whom God called out for special honor. Study today's passage to learn more about the kind of people God honors and how to be one of them.
God doesn't expect us to understand and apply His Word on our own, He wants to help us understand it. Pray and ask Him to give you clear understanding and wisdom from the passage you'll study today.
Read Focus Verses
Read Philippians 2:25-30 and see what it says about this man, Epaphroditus.
In your own words, tell the story of what happened as it is related in today's passage.
Read Philippians 2:17-24 to understand today's passage more fully.
How does Paul describe Epaphroditus in verse 25?
Why had Epaphroditus been in Rome with Paul?
Why did Paul feel it was necessary to send Epaphroditus back to Philippi?
What do these verses say about God's mercy for His people?
Even though Paul loved having Epaphroditus with him, he wanted more for him to go back to Philippi. Why does he say that is?
How were they to receive Epaphroditus when he came back to them?
What had Epaphroditus done that displayed the kind of character God honors?
Keyword - Honor
God tells us to hold in high regard and honor people like Epaphroditus. Marking this keyword will help it stand out to you.
Mark the word reputation or honor in Philippians 2:29.
In Philippians 4:14-19 we read again about Epaphroditus' work for Paul on behalf of the church of Philippi.
What kind of charcter and reputation must Epaphroditus have had to have been selected by his church to take a gift across a continent to the Apostle Paul?
Consider Ephesians 1:3-6 in light of Paul calling Epaphroditus his brother.
1 John 3:1-2 also speaks of this wonderful truth that God makes those He saves His children.
If someone were to ask you why Christians speak of one another as brothers and sisters, how could you answer them?
Notice how 1 Corinthians 3:8-9 expands on the thought of Christians being companions in labor.
With whom are Christians ultimately partnering in labor?
How does working together for the same goal draw Christians like Paul and Epaphroditus closer together?
Soldiers of Christ
Scripture often uses the analogy of warfare to describe the Christian life. Notice one of these instances in 2 Timothy 2:3-4.
A Good Warfare
1 Timothy 1:18 speaks again of this similarity.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 speaks of our weapons in this spiritual fight.
Why is the analogy of warfare used to describe the Christian life?
Soldiers share a special comradery, what are some similarities between that and the relationship between Christians who are on the spiritual frontlines together?
Thinking of all three of these analogies together, we realize that Paul felt very encouraged by and close to Epaphroditus. What kind of man must Epaphroditus have been to be so likeminded to Paul?
This man of sterling character was primarily a messenger. Sometimes we think of that role as below the best people, but in Scripture the opposite is presented. The word angel means messenger. Notice what Proverbs 25:13 says about a faithful messenger.
We are told that Epaphroditus ministered to Paul as a servant. Matthew 20:28 tells us whose example he was following.
In John 13:3-17 we learn that Epaphroditus' willingness to serve was a large part of the reason God said he was worthy of honor.
How does the description of Epaphroditus and his roles challenge our culture's view of leadership and honor?
Just as Paul says Epaphroditus was longing to see these believers in Philippi again so too was Paul in Philippians 1:8.
Loved and Longed For
In Philippians 4:1 we see this theme again.
What are some reasons Christians who are living in obedience and faith so greatly desire to see one another?
One More Piece
We are told one more thing about Epaphroditus in this passage. He was deathly ill, and yet even in that condition he was still more concerned about fulfilling his duty and serving Paul than about himself. How would you put that kind of faithfulness at such a weak point into words?
On Me Also
We learn from Paul's example in verse 27 that it is good to thank God for His kindness to us even in the middle of His kindness to others. John 16:27 reminds us that God loves each of His people individually. It is good to recognize His personal kindness to us.
Never too Much
We see an example of Isaiah 43:2 in today's passage - God will never give us more than we can handle.
In Matthew 22:37-40 we learn what God declares is the second greatest commandment.
What is the second greatest commandment?
How is Paul an example of loving his neighbor as himself in verse 28 when he says that he would find more comfort in knowing they were glad to see Epaphroditus again than in keeping Epaphroditus with himself even though he enjoyed his company so much?
What might it look like to receive someone with gladness?
Those Who Honor God
1 Samuel 2:30 tells us who God will honor.
Before Honor is Humility
Proverbs 15:33 ties more of the themes of this passage together with its linking of humility and honor.
In 2 Timothy 2:19-22 we learn how a person can prepare themselves to be like Epaphroditus - a person God can honor.
In verse 29 we are told to honor people like Epaphroditus. What characteristics should you look for in those you honor based on what is highlighted about Epaphroditus in Scripture?
More Important than Life
In Philippians 1:12-21 show us that, like Epaphroditus, Paul considered doing the work of Christ more important than preserving his life.
The Things of Christ
Philippians 2:19-22 shows us an example of another man, Timothy, who also put the work of Christ about his own interests.
In Your Words
How can you describe this kind of attitude in your own words?
One for All
All of the Philippian believers weren't able to go visit Paul in Rome. Instead they contributed to a gift and sent Epaphroditus as their representative according to verse 30 in today's passage. When we look at Philippians 4:17-18 we see that all of them received eternal reward for their part.
How does Epaphroditus' attitude as a representative of his church demonstrate further the humility that God honors?
What kind of person does God want us to honor?
Based on today's study, what areas of your life do you need to change in order to become the kind of person God honors?
Is there a situation from your life that comes to mind in which most of the world saw God's kindness to another person, but you know that His action was also so kind to you? Take a minute to remember what He did for you and thank Him.
We hope this study has helped you understand what kind of person God honors and wants you to honor, and has challenged you to be a person God can honor.
Please take a brief moment to provide us some feedback on this lesson. We're always striving to improve, and, with your help, we will.Click To Visit Website
Support our Ministry
Please join us in our quest to help the world discover the beauty of the Bible. Consider making a generous donation today.Click To Visit Website