Bible Topics
in the Christian Library

Philippians 2:25-30

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 in joy.

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 -- Epaphroditus.

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 sacrifice.

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 true!

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 one sacrifices.

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 (Ro 12:10).

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 things.

c. We must anticipate victory because the promises of God never fail!

4. He becomes a "minister" -- one who is concerned with serving 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 in each!

II. Sacrifice will result in new responsibilities (v. 26-28).

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 (v. 25).

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 the implacable.

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 and honor.

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 Christ" (Blair).

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 cost to others.

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