The Letter To The Philippians, Part 9

Personal Devotional: The Letter to the Philippians, Part 9
Philippians 2:19-30

Let’s begin with intentional reading.
  • Read Philippians 2: 14-18 and consider the following:
    • Did you notice anything in this set of scripture you have never noticed in the Bible before?
    • Did you read any familiar verses? Which ones?
    • Were any of the verses you read particularly meaningful to you today? Why?

In the last set of verses of Philippians 2, Paul writes to the Philippians regarding 2 of his coworkers: Timothy and Epaphroditus.  Both men have been companions to Paul during his travels and vital to his ministry. His words about them highlight the joy and the comfort that comes with having faithful friends who are believers.  Paul’s praise of Timothy and Epaphroditus also serves to teach us about what selfless service to Christ looks like.  Let’s begin.

Most scholars believe that Paul wrote this letter while he was in Rome under house arrest.  Paul would have either been waiting for the trial itself or waiting for the decision from the court after the trail, and that’s the reason that he was unable to travel back to Philippi.  House arrest for a Roman citizen was not the most dire of circumstances, but it wasn’t a piece of cake either.  Timeliness and efficiency were not hallmarks of the ancient Roman justice system, and Paul simply had to wait until the courts remembered his case.  Even in the waiting and the frustration, Paul’s attitude and perspective remained fixed on Jesus and kept him from feeling defeated.

  • Read Philippians 2: 18 and 24. In both verses, where does Paul place his hope and his confidence? How does placing hope in Jesus help Paul see past his current circumstances?  When we place our hope in Jesus rather than in things of this world or our own ability, how can it help us see past our own circumstances?
  • Read John 14:27 and 16:33. By placing our faith in Jesus and hoping in Him, what does he promise us? Considering Jesus’ words in John 16:33 specifically, does peace from the Lord mean that our lives will be trouble free? Explain how a relationship with Christ brings believers peace even in troubling circumstances.

Paul praises Timothy beginning in verse 20 by saying that he has genuine interest in the welfare of the Philippian church and that he has served with Paul as a son would with his father.  Both are huge statements about Timothy’s character. And while, unfortunately, we cannot unpack the entirety of Timothy’s character here, the two attributes Paul highlights are worth our attention.

  • Read Philippians 2: 20-21.  What does Paul specifically praise Timothy for here?  By being genuinely interested in the welfare of the Philippian church, whose needs is Timothy ultimately most concerned about (verse 21)?  How does showing genuine concern and care for others actually show concern for Jesus? How does showing genuine concern and care for others demonstrate the love of Jesus to others. Reference Mark 12:30-13 and Galatians 6:2. How can we demonstrate genuine care and concern for others in order to display Jesus?

In the 1st century, sons most often learned their father’s trade and served as their fathers’ apprentices while they learned. Sons carried on the “family business” and rarely pursued an occupation that was different than that of their fathers.  Following in a father’s footsteps was a means of honoring the father and a well-trained son brought honor to his father.  I hope that you all are already seeing the weight of Paul’s words in verse 22! Timothy’s biological father was not a Gospel preacher and yet Timothy chooses ministry because of Paul’s impact on his life. Paul and Timothy’s relationship highlights the power a Godly mentor can have in our lives.

  • Read Philippians 2: 22.  Based on this verse, does Paul feel like Timothy is a well-trained apprentice? How would you describe Paul’s feelings for Timothy?
  • Have you had a Godly mentor that has profoundly affected your spiritual growth? Are you currently in a place to be a Paul or Timothy? Read Matthew 28:16-20.  Does Jesus want us to always be Timothys or does he desire of all of his disciples to become Pauls?  Are there times when we can be both?

Paul concludes this chapter by commending Epaphroditus.  He is only mentioned here in Philippians, but what Paul says about him is telling. In 26 verses, we learn about a man who is bold enough to leave his home to serve God, committed to Lord enough to minister with Paul, concerned enough for others that he doesn’t want them to worry, and fearless enough to give his life for the church. Epaphroditus’s short biography paints a vivid picture of active discipleship and is worth a moment in study.

  • Read Philippians 2: 25-30.  List the ways Paul describes Epaphroditus.  What do “brother, fellow worker, fellow soldier, and messenger” tell you about this man?
  • Look specifically at verse 29 and note what Paul asks the church at Philippi to do when Epaphroditus returns.  What is the church to also do for men “like” Epaphroditus?  What qualities are especially honorable in Epaphroditus?   Why is it important for churches to welcome men like Epaphroditus and honor them?  How do the qualities of Epaphroditus-like servants grow the Kingdom?

Hope in Christ, meaningful relationships with other believers, the power of effective mentorship, and the value of dedicated servants to the body are on display in the closing verses of Philippians 2.  From Paul’s perspective, Timothy and Epaphroditus embody the best of 1st century discipleship.  The same principles apply to 21st century disciples, the examples set by these two men are just as powerful today. Our hope is that their example will encourage you.
Be blessed. Be a blessing

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