Opening Prayer

Holy Spirit, thank you for the ways you have worked in me to bring me to faith in Jesus and enable me to follow him. I look to you to increase my faith and help me follow him more closely.

Read PHILIPPIANS 2:19-30

Timothy and Epaphroditus

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.

25 But 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. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.

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Thank God for friends past and present, who have shown you the love of Christ and helped you to follow him more closely.

Think Further

Our verses give us a window into Paul’s world and, especially, the co-workers who faithfully labored alongside him. First, there are the Philippians themselves. Paul had planted the church and continues to encourage them in discipleship, praying faithfully for them and longing to visit (v 24). Second, there are specific individuals: Timothy, who is like a son to Paul (v 22), and Epaphroditus, a key church leader at Philippi whose illness caused great distress (vs 26,27). In the West, we emphasize the individual rather than the corporate, but Covid-19 and the isolation it brought has shown us afresh the importance of relationships. The New Testament shows us just how important. For Paul, the interests of Jesus Christ and concern for the welfare of others are almost the same thing: he moves seamlessly from one to the other (vs 20,21).

If we are to live under the lordship of Christ, we need to have the same mindset. He created us for community. The friendships revealed in this passage are rich and deep. Certainly, for Paul and Timothy, their mutual love was lifelong. We need Christian friends who are committed to us for the long haul. Seek out such relationships and, when you have them, invest in them. They are precious. Friendship is wonderful in and of itself, but our verses highlight something more. Timothy, Epaphroditus, and Paul are great friends, but they don’t merely enjoy one another’s company – they engage in gospel work together, each making a unique contribution to the common cause. Some of the greatest friendships are forged in the heat of gospel ministry. Let us follow the example of Paul and his friends and join together in the ‘work of Christ’ (v 30).


Spiritual friends are vital for accountability, gospel ministry, and because friendship can be delightful! Who can you reach out to in friendship this Christmas time?

Closing prayer

Jesus, I am grateful for Christian friends in whom I see you, who help me to see and know you better. Encourage them, enabling them to know your pleasure.

Last Updated on December 27, 2023 by kingstar

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