By: Brent Joseph, transcribed from Live Conference in Bungoma, Kenya
Now in Philippians 2:19 Paul transitions from the example of Christ to the example of Timothy. Here he is going to use the man of God Timothy to show the mind of Christ in esteeming others better than himself. This was an example to the church at Philippi, and his example is for us as well. Remember that the book of Philippians is not only written to the saints, but also to the bishops and deacons. The overseers and the ministers of the church are to learn from this example of: Christ, Timothy, Epaphroditus, and Paul as described in Philippians chapter 2 and 3.
But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.
For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.
For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.
Timothy was a man who was of the same mind, he had an equal mind with Paul. Do you remember in Philippians 2:6 Paul said that Christ was “equal with God.” In the way that Christ was equal with God, Timothy’s mind was equal with Paul’s mind. The relationship of Christ and God and their equality is here represented in Timothy’s mind and the equality with Paul’s mind. This is why Timothy would care for the church in the same way that Paul cared for the church. This is why Timothy could be trusted by Paul. I can’t trust you with the church if we do not care for the church in the same way. Because somewhere along the line you are going to be selfish, you’re going to blow it and ruin it because we are not of an equal mind. Paul knew that Timothy was of an equal mind with him in denying himself and esteeming others in the church. This is the reason, the number one and the only reason why Timothy could be trusted to care for Paul’s churches. Because he did not seek his own, but he sought the things that were Jesus Christ’s just like Paul did. This is the identifying mark. This is how we can recognize who the upcoming leaders will be in the church to follow after us. That they have lowliness of mind and esteem others better than themselves. That they look not on their own things but always on the things of others. That they seek not their own but the things which are Jesus Christ’s.
But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.
You know how a son and a father can be identified as being related? The son reminds you of the father. Maybe the way that he talks or the way that he looks. Maybe it is how he stands or certain mannerisms that he has. Timothy was a son to Paul because of the way that he cared for the churches. He was a son in the way that he served in the gospel. The way that Timothy served in the gospel, if you were to see him and you knew Paul, you would say, “Hey, that fella reminds me a lot of how Paul serves in the gospel.” This is why Timothy was called a son to the father with Paul. What a man Timothy must have been! What a great heart Timothy must have had! You see everyone here sits and listens about looking on the things of others, but Timothy was the type of man who heard it and then made his entire life about the things of others. You are going to determine how far you go with the Word of God. You are going to determine whether or not you say, “I went to a pastors conference,” so that you can have a little more credibility, but continue to live the same way. Or you are going to go home and not have to say a word, but the way that you esteem others better than yourself and look on the needs of others, the people of your town will be able to watch the way you serve and say, “Something has changed in that man.” You are the only one that is going to determine that. Remember how we talked about how the Word of God has the power to change your life? This is exactly what I was talking about.
Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.
“Him therefore,” because he is like my son in the gospel, because we are of equal minds. That is why I want to send him. Now it goes on and he says, “So soon as I shall see how it shall go with me.” Paul said, “I might be able to come visit you myself, but I don’t know yet. But if I can’t come myself, I trust in the Lord Jesus and I hope that I am able to send Timothy instead of myself. But even if I can’t come I will send Timothy, but if you see Timothy, don’t worry, I still want to come see you myself.”
But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.
We know “the Lord” here is the Lord Jesus from verse 23. Now we have concluded the example of Timothy and we get into the example of Epaphroditus. Epaphroditus was already sent to the Philippian church at the time that this letter to the Philippians was written. He said, “I still have to send Timothy to you, but now I am going to talk to you about Epaphroditus who I have already sent to you.”
Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.
“Messenger” could also be translated “apostle.” A lot of the details that we have already covered in Philippians are right here in this verse. Philippians 2:25 states at the end of the verse that, “He ministered to my wants.” Here we see that he esteemed the needs of others greater than himself. Epaphroditus was a follower of Christ because he followed the example that Christ left for us to follow. A follower of Christ follows the example that Christ has left for us to follow.
Epaphroditus is called a “fellowsoldier.” We know from the second letter that Paul wrote Timothy, the mindset of a soldier is part of the picture that we carry in our minds as we endure hardness in carrying out ministry work (2 Timothy 2:3 and 4). This verse here is the only time the word “fellowsolider” occurs in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit calls Paul and Epaphroditus “fellowsoldiers” because of how they endured hardship together. Just like we read in Philippians chapter 1 of the apostle Paul. His situations were so difficult he would rather have just departed from this world to be with Christ (which was far better). Paul said, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” He said, “To die would be a benefit or a gain for himself” but he then said, “I would rather stay alive and in the flesh for your benefit.”
This was the type of difficulty and hardship Epaphroditus experienced with Paul. He was with Paul during this time when Paul was considering all these things, before he was sent back to the Philippians church by Paul. And Epaphroditus had hardships of his own. Despite these hardships, Epaphroditus looked on the things of others even though his own life was difficult. Through difficulties he continued ministering to Paul.
For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.
To “long after you all” means that he badly wanted to be with the Philippian church.
For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
The “bowels of Jesus Christ” is referring to the feelings that Jesus Christ felt. Paul said “I long after you, and I desire to be with you in the same way that Jesus Christ desires to be with you.” His love for God’s people was so great that he felt about God’s people and longed for God’s people the same way that Jesus Christ did, who gave his own life for, and shed his own blood for.
Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
“Longed for” here it is again. That Paul had the mind of Christ they were longed for, and as Timothy was as an equal mind with Paul, Epaphroditus longed for the church of Philippi the same way Paul longed for the church of Philippi.
For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.
For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
This was part of the hardship that Paul and Epaphroditus were facing with each other. Things were falling apart on the outside of the ministry making Paul just want to quit. And on top of this, one of his closest brothers and companions that is with him at the time is so sick that the Word says he is close to death.
Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.
Here again in verse 30 we see these major themes of Philippians. We know that Epaphroditus was an apostle in the church of Philippi and came to Paul. While he was with Paul and serving Paul, he became sick and close to death and the Philippian church heard about his diminishing health. So as soon as he recovered, Epaphroditus returned to the Philippian church from where he came.
As mentioned before, Paul the apostle was the last example in Philippians here. We have looked at the example of Christ, Timothy, and Epaphroditus. All three men who esteemed others better than themselves, all three men who had the mind of Christ in them. And now we look at the example of Paul.
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
This last phrase “having no confidence in the flesh” is how Paul transitions to his own life’s example.
Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more.
Strife and vainglory are all of the flesh. Disputings and murmurings are of the flesh. These are behaviors of men who trust in the flesh. They are not the same mind that was in Christ. Here we will see that by Paul not trusting in the flesh he was able to follow Christ.
Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
You see what Paul knew was gain for him and worked to his benefit, he recognized that just because something works to my benefit does not mean that it is a good thing. These things that made his life easier, these things that caused people in the community to respect him were a gain for him but were a loss for Christ. Because they were a loss for Christ, Paul did not want to continue to hold on to these things. Here we see again the mind of a servant.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.
Paul was willing to sacrifice it all. He was willing to lose his position of respect in the Jewish society. This is that lowliness of mind where anything that stood in the way of him gaining the excellent knowledge of Christ Jesus who he called “my Lord,” he looked at what was in-between him and that gaining Christ and called it worthless.
So may we also as servants recognize that anything standing in our way in gaining the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord, may we recognize it for what it is, even if it may appear as gain, it is a loss and has no value. It is valueless. It is vain.
Let us show with our life and not with our mouths, that we are those that are willing to sacrifice ourselves for the betterment of others. Let us look to God so that we can learn, more and more and more how to be better servants, and therefore, we will see God at work within us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.