in the Christian Library
John L. Kachelman, Jr.
I. General notes on the context.
1. Paul has been encouraging the Philippian brethren to
live a life with the kind of character and sacrifice which would result
2. To help illustrate how this was to be done Paul presents
a series of examples in chapter two.
a. Christ is presented -- in His humility and selfless
sacrifice Christ considered only the welfare of humans. He regarded neither
His own rights nor the cost of salvation. His attitude should be imbedded
in all followers.
b. Paul next presents himself -- he is ready to be poured
out as a drink offering. His entire life was devoted to denying self and
serving others (Gal 2:20).
c. Timothy is the next illustration -- Paul shows the
necessity of developing a character which would serve others before self.
d. Now, in the last illustration, Paul turns to one which
further supports his teachings on humility, service, character, and sacrifice
3. The whole thrust of chapter two -- Unity with one another
(which God expects) is only possible when one's character and sacrifice
is in harmony with these four illustrations!
II. Brief remarks on Epaphroditus.
1. He was a member of the Philippian congregation.
2. He is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible unless
the references in Col 1:7 and Phlm 23 refer to this man.
3. He was appointed to bring the love offering of the Philippians to Paul and to minister to the apostle's needs. While in Rome he became gravely ill.
III. Perhaps the key word which best describes Epaphroditus is "sacrifice".
1. Timothy (2:10-24) shows us the character which we need
to develop to experience joy.
2. Epaphroditus shows us the sacrifice which must be demonstrated
if we hope to find joy.
3. It is unfortunate that far too many Christians fail
to understand the importance of personal sacrifice leading to joy.
a. Christianity is a religion that is built upon sacrifice.
b. A wealthy man stood on a wharf watching a mammoth vessel
in the harbor as she made ready to put out to sea. A friend saw him and
after they had exchanged greetings, asked why he was at the wharf. He replied,
"There's $10,000 worth of equipment I'm sending to a hospital in China
on that ship!" There was silence for a moment. "I too, am sending a gift
to China on that ship," said the friend. "My only daughter is going as
a missionary." The wealthy man placed a gentle hand on his friend's shoulder
and said, "I thought I had sacrificed!" (Too many have a smug smile of
self-satisfaction regarding their sacrifice!)
c. To those in the world the demands of sacrifice are
unreasonable. For many in the church there is a total absence of joy in
4. Consider Epaphroditus and see how important sacrifice
(in the right attitude) is to joy in daily life!
I. Sacrifice will result in new relationships (v. 25).
A. Paul shows us that whenever one sacrifices he is placed
into new relationships with others.
1. Epaphroditus sacrificed and this led him to know a
joy that otherwise was unknowable.
2. Far too many assume that they can have full fellowship
and new relationships in the church and never do anything--Such is not
3. Before one can enjoy the blessings of new relationships
in Christ he/she must sacrifice!
B. Briefly consider the new relationships which come when
1. He becomes a "brother" -- There is the sharing of an
intimate association with other family members.
a. A brother sympathizes with others in the family, this
often means putting aside personal pleasures for a period of time.
b. A brother will help each family member and stand beside
them. Each will sacrifice so that trivial matters will not divide and destroy
2. He becomes a "fellow worker" or "companion". Sacrifice
must be made to allow us time to perform many tasks -- those who never
sacrifice pleasure and time to join in labors of the church will fail to
find full joy!
3. He becomes a "fellow soldier" -- It is universally
admitted that soldiers must sacrifice to serve acceptably. This principle
applies with equal force to the Lord's army!
a. There must be discipline in our prayers, Bible study,
training, and self-denial.
b. There must be determination to stand on the front lines
of combat -- sacrifice of popularity, friends, and possibly money and material
c. We must anticipate victory because the promises of
God never fail!
4. He becomes a "minister" -- one who is concerned with
others, not himself! This word embodies the concept of sacrificing
for another's well-being and enjoyment.
5. He becomes a "messenger" -- one with the message of
Jesus Christ! Over the years there has been separation for life, possessions
given up, and even lives lost in wilful sacrifice to the spreading of the
gospel message. Sacrifice will cause one to see the need of preaching the
good news to others!
C. Whenever one sacrifices self and obeys Christ's commands
he will experience new relationships.
1. These will be very rewarding.
2. Great joy is found only when we become involved
II. Sacrifice will result in new responsibilities (v.
A. One who faithfully lives in the new relationships just
discussed, will quickly see his/her personal responsibilities arising.
How can you be active in any of these and not realize greater duties?
B. Consider Epaphroditus' new responsibilities which came
with his sacrifice.
1. There was the duty of going to Rome with the gift.
a. He did not sit idly but acted with urgency! He did
not merely contribute money but gave himself!
b. "The problem in our churches is that we have too many
spectators and not enough participants."
c. May each present be aware of our personal duty to go
"to Rome" -- become active. This activity will show others that we are
aware of our new responsibilities and new relationships.
2. There was the concern to help lighten other's burdens
a. Epaphroditus had a big heart filled with fervent and
passionate concern-- "longed for you all." He was overflowing with care
for the needs of others.
b. Living in the new relationships means that we will
have a love like God's--loving the suffering, the lost, the loveless, and
c. What a wonderful attitude that will cause us to find
unity in the church!
3. There was the desire to "go beyond" expected demands.
Epaphroditus strove to make up what the Philippian church could not do
(v. 30). He could not let Paul "go it alone," but was compelled to get
the job done!
4. There was the humility to do whatever was necessary
-- no labor was too menial!
a. He was not a preacher, he was sent to minister to (serve)
Paul -- but he was in Christ's service!
b. His service to Paul probably included tending to his
meals and delivering them, washing clothes, and doing whatever the apostle
needed -- Yet he was doing the work of Christ! (v. 30).
5. There was the commitment to a fellow Christian.
a. What was the "work" Epaphroditus was sent for -- to
make up for the help that the Philippians could not give so far away
b. Epaphroditus sacrificed and became a "brother, fellow
worker," committed to Paul and THIS was the work of Christ! (This commitment
will always provide for unity. Ro 14:19; 15:1-2)
C. One who seeks joy must not only sacrifice but must
be willing to accept and perform these new responsibilities to others.
1. Becoming active in the work -- "going to Rome."
2. Showing concern to lighten other's loads.
3. Going beyond the normal expected demands.
4. To handle even the lowest tasks with humility.
5. To show great commitment to fellow members of the church.
III. Sacrifice results in wonderful blessings (v. 29-30).
A. Paul makes it clear that Epaphroditus was going to
receive a reward because of sacrificial service.
1. He is to be warmly welcomed.
2. He is to be recognized and honored because of his labor.
B. This is the point which should prod each to sacrifice
and live for Christ.
1. Those who do this should be shown great appreciation
2. "We have met those who were nigh unto death because
of overwork in the shop or office. We have known of physical wrecks because
of greed and covetousness. We have seen many brought to the final payment
of that last death-wage because of sin. But we have seen few who have even
touched the shoes of death because of complete sacrifice of self in serving
3. Such rewards will only come from those who have sacrificed
self for Christ. When Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States,
he was returning once from a game hunt in Africa. A missionary couple who
have invested more than forty years of life in Africa traveled aboard the
same ship. A cheering crowd welcomed Roosevelt and his entourage at the
New York harbor. The old missionary couple disembarked without anyone to
greet them. The wife was heavyhearted, but the husband said: "My dear wife,
cheer up. This is not as yet our homecoming." A better day awaits us.
I. Do we really understand the need for sacrifice?
1. Is it possible that ALL of our gifts to God come from
our "abundance" instead of our "want"?
2. The only way for peace and harmony to exist in the
church today is for this sacrificial spirit of Epaphroditus to live in
each of us every day!
II. Remember Epaphroditus and the wonderful lesson he
teaches about sacrificing in the Lord's church.
1. Sacrifices result in new relationships.
2. Sacrifices result in new responsibilities.
3. Sacrifices result in wonderful rewards.
Copyright 1998 by John
L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no
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