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Section 4: 2:19-30: Examples of true humility: Timothy and Epaphroditus

Practical examples. In letters, Paul doesn't just teach, he also passes on news of what is going on. However, notice how in this chapter he has woven this news right into the argument he is trying to make to the Philippians. Both of these people he talks about are described in ways that emphases their humble service, their obedience, their sacrifice. These are all things Paul has been talking about in the first 18 verses of this chapter.

Timothy. Little is known about Timothy other than what Paul writes. He is a young associate of Paul, and is mentioned in the letter called 1 Thessalonians. In that letter are some pieces of information that show that Timothy was a trusted companion of Paul. He is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians.

Paul describes Timothy here in ways that echo the argument he has been making. In verses 3 and 4 Paul called people to put others interests on a par or above their own. Now (verse 21-22) he describes Timothy as someone who does that. Paul wrote (verses 3, 12, 14) about humble service, and he described how Christ did that (verses 7-8). Now he talks about Timothy as being like a son, and as someone who can be sent (verses 22-23) and will obey.

Epaphroditus If little is known of Timothy, even less is known of Epaphroditus. Note that Paul says Epaphroditus was from Philippi, and had evidently been sent to Paul for some reason. Perhaps he carried news or a letter from Philippi. His name comes from the goddess Aphrodite and means "handsome" or "charming." It isn't unheard of in ancient times for a man to have a name taken from a female god. Notice that he didn't have to change his "pagan" name to be a follower of Christ.

Paul speaks of how Epaphroditus was ill, almost to dying. This for Paul is a practical example of how we would "give our lives" for Christ. Giving your life to Christ isn't just being a martyr, and being killed for your belief. Paul points out that Epaphroditus put his service to Jesus ahead of his own health.

Last updated 12/16/00; © 2000 John P. Nordin