Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

Philippians 2:19-30

warm up

Make a list of some of the type of people we as a society might applaud  and admire if they walked into the room?  What kind of people usually have their pictures and names on the covers of magazines or on billboards? What do most of the people on our lists have in common? Would most of those on our lists give us the time of day? 

wise up

Verse 29 reminds us that there are certain people that we should hold in "reputation" (have the highest regard for.) There are those among us who make great sacrifices of time, health, and wealth for the cause of Christ. They will not be applauded when they walk into a room (and wouldn't want it that way) but they probably deserve our appreciation more than many of the people we may esteem. In this text, we read of two men who received the highest praise that Paul could give. We can learn much from them and much from Paul's attitude and appreciation for such who are like them.

I. Do we appreciate those who naturally care for others? Vs. 19-24
   1. Timothy was a "natural" when it came to caring about others. What is meant by "naturally caring?" Do you think some people are able to do some things more naturally than others? Why? Can we do something so often that it becomes natural for us?
When we hear the word "minister" what ideas usually come into our minds regarding such work? What qualifications did Timothy have that would have made him a good friend? a good minister? a good Christian?
   3. Make a list of some of the things that would be "natural" for some, if not all of us, to do:
(1) When a friend is sick. (2) At a time of a friend's death.(3) When a friend is going thru a hard time emotionally. (4) When a  fellow Christian has become a shut-in because of age and health. Etc.
   4. In verses 20-21, Paul indicates that he had no other associate with him who would care for these brethren the way Timothy would. When Paul wrote that "all seek their own," the tear drops must have stained those original parchments. What a sad description of fellow ministers!  Paul had previously mentioned how some preachers were envious and contentious and not sincere (Phil 1:15-16.) With that backdrop we can understand why Paul is quick to encourage brethren to "receive with gladness" and "hold such (like Timothy) in reputation." Was Paul's admonition to esteem such ministers an indication that most brethren don't do this very well? Do we find ourselves scrutinizing and criticizing those who are making sacrifices to minister to others rather than showing appreciation? Could such a failure to show appreciation be one reason why many good men who unselfishly enter an area of ministry will often begin to "seek their own?"  Rare is the individual who can unselfishly serve others who don't appreciate their efforts.

II. Do we appreciate those who fill in the gaps that we or others may fail to fill? Vs. 25-30
Epaphroditus (Vs. 25) was not only a fellow preacher, he was a preacher's preacher and a minister's minister.  Yes, even preachers need ministers who will care about them. In this text, Paul is showing how much he cares for the brethren at Philippi by allowing this brother who had ministered to his wants to return to Philippi. We get the impression that this was a great sacrifice for Paul. He reluctantly sent Epaphroditus home. It's obvious that he loved and admired this good man and did not want to see him go. Sometimes brethren get such an attachment to preachers that they are accused of having "preacher-itus." But often what is derogatorily labeled as "preacher-itus" may actually just be "Epaphrod-itus." Paul, like many of us, had become attached to this brother because of the support, help and encouragement that he offered. When someone cares about us, we care about them. Is there really anything wrong with loving someone that much?
   2. Why did Paul suppose that it was necessary to send Epaphroditus home? (Vs. 25-29.) Do ministers ever get homesick? It is interesting that this caring man who put his own life in jeopardy in order to serve others not only loved those he was presently serving but also loved those he had left behind. Can one ever have too many friends? Just because you are not with someone does that mean that you don't love or care about them?
   3. In Verse 27, Paul indicates that God not only had mercy on Epaphroditus who was sick, but mercy on Paul in allowing this good man to get well.  We are not told what his sickness was except that he was "nigh unto death" (Vs. 30.) There are two observations that can be made here. First, God is often merciful and will not allow us to be burdened with more than we can bear. Second, by the time this epistle was written, miraculous healing was seldom occurring. It's purpose, as clearly stated in Mark 16:20, was nearing completion as the perfect or complete word of God neared completion. (Cf., I Cor. 13:8-10.) Paul's delight in the recovery of Epaphroditus indicates that not everyone that was sick was miraculously healed. (Compare another similar situation in 2 Timothy 4:20.) Discuss the significance of each of these observations as time permits.
   4. In verse 30, Paul states that Epaphroditus was supplying the service that the Philippians were not able to give. (Filling in the gaps that others had left.) Do you think Paul was being negative or positive in making this statement? Why?  When we hear of someone who went an extra mile to do for those that we couldn't be there for or failed to be there for, do we appreciate them? How might we show our appreciation? Discuss how we might apply this lesson of appreciation for those "who stand in for us" in our homes, at work, in the community, and at church.

wrap up

   1. At times we should ask ourselves, "Am I among those who seek their own or one like Timothy who seeks the things of Christ? or "Am I among those who are slack or among those who pull up the slack that others leave?" Do we appreciate those who fills in the gaps that we have left unfilled? 


 Please read Philippians 3:1-8 for next week   copyright 2001