Scripture

Philippians 2:19-30

Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.


Spend some time in worship.

 

 

Observation

Philippians 2:19-30

Paul wanted to send Timothy to visit the Philippian Church, but realised this would happen in God’s time. He recognised in Timothy a man who cared for others more than he cared for himself. Timothy was a true shepherd and one of Paul’s closest friends. In fact, Paul looked on Timothy as his son in the faith. Paul mentions the young man in five of his letters (to the churches at Thessalonica, Corinth, Colossae, Philippi and Rome). Timothy was delighted to take second place to Paul and help him wherever he could. He visited several churches on Paul’s behalf.

Paul longed to visit the Philippian congregation himself too. But in the meantime he would send Epaphroditus back to them with the letter he was writing. Epaphroditus had brought a financial gift to Paul while he was in prison. He had been very sick and was worried that his friends in the Philippian church were concerned about him. He longed to go back to Philippi to see them all again and reassure them.

There is nothing to indicate Epaphroditus experienced a miracle in the way he was healed, yet even so, Paul saw God’s hand in his return to health. He would have been devastated at the loss of such a friend and helper if Epaphroditus had died. Paul was keen to send Epaphroditus back to the Philippians. He was concerned though that they might think Epaphroditus had abandoned Paul, and he assured them that, in spite of his illness, their friend had been a great help to him. The English translations of the original Greek words Paul used to describe Epaphroditus do not reflect the high esteem Paul had for Epaphroditus. He used words that described him as

  • Apostolos – one who is sent. For Christians this linked Epaphroditus with the apostles and gave him the honour Paul intended.
  • Leitourgos – one who served and gave of themselves out of extreme love.
  • Paraboleuesthai – one who gambles – this was used to describe Christians who took risks for the sake of others – nursing those who were sick with plague, burying those who had died and so risking their own lives.

The believers in Philippi needed to acknowledge this when they welcomed him back. He had put his work for Jesus ahead of his own personal health and safety. Paul infers that Epaphroditus’ illness was caused by over-work rather than any persecution. The arrival of the gift that Epaphroditus brought from Philippi completed their generosity and good intentions for Paul.

Icebreaker:

Who has encouraged you in your Christian walk? How did they impact your life? Have you ever told them what their input meant to you? If you are still able to do so, how can you take action to thank them now?

Application

  • How does Timothy’s ministry as a young person impact you?
    o If you are a teenager or young adult?
    o If you are a mature adult?
    o If you are a senior?
    How does it influence your concept of young people who are Christians and the depth of their faith? Do such ideas change the way you have considered their impact on the Church or not? Why?
  • People put their own self-interest above that of Christ.’ Do you agree with this statement? Where do you see it taking place? How do you personally feel about it? Does it apply to you or not? Why do you respond in this way? How can you make a change, if change is needed?
  • ‘In our society, self-absorption is a problem’. The same questions apply as in the previous point.
  • Do you think people would see you as a source of comfort and hope? Do you stretch out your hands in works of mercy? If you do, how do you do so? If you do not, how could you do so? How do such ideas make you feel?
  • Epaphroditus put Christ first. He cared about the little things that Paul needed to have done for him and served him, even to the point of death. How would you describe the way you serve others? Do you care about the little needs of others around you?
  • Are you willing to serve God wherever He has placed you? How do you do this?
  • How do you respond to Jesus’ statements about giving sustenance, clothing, and visiting those who are in need in some way? How can we bring hope in hopeless situations?
  • How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?

Prayer
Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.
Pray also for the ‘peace of Jerusalem’. (Psalm 122:6) and all who are suffering from this war, as well as the one in Ukraine.

Service
Who are the young people in the church whom you can encourage and support as they try to become more Christ-like in character? (Ask for guidance here from people who would know because of their work with such young people). How can you, as a group, do this? How about inviting a few (perhaps the same number as group members) to a breakfast where you can get to know them, hear their stories and pray with them? Brainstorm with them, discover their needs in their faith, and any other way you can do this – and then take action.

Bibliography

Philippians Chapter 2

https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dsb/philippians-2.html

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