I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.
In some parts of the letters in the New Testament we find clear reminders that we are reading someone else’s mail.
If you are cleaning out your grandmother’s house after her death and you find a shoebox full of letters, you might read passing references to “Uncle Harry’s difficulties” or how “cousin Louisa hit it big.” But you may not know much about either person, and you may never know what difficulties or successes they had.
There’s a story behind Paul’s references to Epaphroditus, and the Philippians knew what Paul was talking about. But we don’t. In the Bible this man, Epaphroditus, is mentioned only in Philippians. It sounds like Paul had him hand-deliver this very letter to the church in Philippi. It also appears that Epaphroditus had brought Paul a gift from Philippi and that he nearly worked himself to death for the cause of the gospel. More than that we do not know.
But in some ways we can think of Epaphroditus as a stand-in for us all. We all have stories. We may even have done devoted work for God. No, we’re not famous. Few people will remember our names after we are gone. But God knows each of us by name. God remembers. God honors us for the service we have done for his kingdom. And that is more than a little encouragement for us all!
Thank you, Lord, that in your sovereign knowledge you see and notice everybody, even as you have already written our names into your book of life. In Christ, Amen.
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