Bible blog 2137

I intend (in the Lord Jesus) to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be cheered up by getting news of you. For I don’t have anyone else with as natural a concern for your interests. (They’re all looking after their own affairs, rather than Jesus Messiah’s.)

But you know Timothy’s tried and tested nature, that he has slaved for the Joyful News, along with me, like a son with a father. So I intend to send him, as soon as I see how my affairs are working out. And I’m confident (in the Lord) that I’ll come soon as well.

Yet I think I must send Epaphroditus, my brother, colleague and fellow soldier; your messenger and minister to my needs, back to you. For he has been longing after you all and out of sorts because you heard that he was ill. Yes, he was so ill he nearly died! But God took pity on him – and not only on him but on me also- to spare me one sorrow on top of another. So I’m the keener to send him back, in order that you’ll be happy seeing him, and I’ll be the more carefree.

Do welcome him then (in the Lord) with complete gladness – and hold people like him in honour – because he came close to death for Messiah’s work, paying no regard to his own safety, to supply the services that you were unable to give me.

Epaphroditus had been sent from Philippi with a monetary gift for Paul from the Assembly, and with permission to stay and help him. He had however been very ill. Now Paul is sending him back probably bearing this letter. He promises visits from Timothy and himself, as a way of indocating his affection for the believers in Philippi. His tone is affectionate, yet there are details that grate.

He says he has no one who cares as much as Timothy for their interests ( literally, “their things.”) Then he accuses some unnamed helpers of caring only for their own interests ( again, “their things”) Then a sentence later he excuses himself for being uncertain when he’ll see them by referring to his own affairs ( his “things). So in addition to accusing others of hypocrisy, he gives pride of place to his own affairs!

Some of this may be careless dictation, or clumsy expression, but the reader is left wondering if Paul is a little too involved with himself. Even his praise of Timothy honours him for serving Paul like a son. Yes, that’s probably unfair to Paul, but there’s sometthing sticky in this passage that’s hard to get rid of.

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