What does Philippians 2:29 mean?
ESV: So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men,
NIV: So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him,
NASB: Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold people like him in high regard,
CSB: Therefore, welcome him in the Lord with great joy and hold people like him in honor,
NLT: Welcome him in the Lord’s love and with great joy, and give him the honor that people like him deserve.
KJV: Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:
Because of who Epaphroditus was, his service, and what he had been through, Paul commanded the Philippian believers to celebrate his return, thanking the Lord for his life and healing.
In addition, Paul extended this command to others like Epaphroditus. All who serve God with humility and sacrifice should be honored by their fellow Christian brothers and sisters. The reasons will be given in greater detail in the next verse, in particular noting that he had risked his life for Christ.
Those who serve Christ by leaving home and risking their lives are to receive honor from the church. This principle can extend today to missionaries and perhaps others. For instance, Christian military personnel and Christian leaders who serve far from home to help those in need. As in this case, the work does not always require the person to be an evangelist or teacher. Epaphroditus left to personally care for Paul, to deliver money and perhaps other supplies, and to bring encouragement. Such workers are of tremendous importance to those serving on the front lines of ministry.
Philippians 2:19–30 is Paul's instructions to the Philippian church regarding two particular men: Timothy and Epaphroditus. Timothy was a trusted friend of Paul's, who would likely be visiting the church at Philippi soon. Epaphroditus apparently had friends and contacts in this church, and had brought support from Philippi to Paul. After recovering from a near-fatal disease, Epaphroditus is the one delivering this letter from Paul and Timothy.
Paul describes Jesus Christ as one willing to be humble, in obedience to God the Father. For this, God will exalt Jesus' name above all others. Someday, one way or another, all people will admit that Jesus Christ is Lord, and submit to Him. Paul wants the Philippian believers to live with contentment and unity, without complaining. Instructions are given regarding two visitors. The first is actually the one delivering this letter, Epaphroditus. The other is Timothy, Paul's trusted friend, who hopefully will be visiting soon.
Philippians 1 focused on the importance of perspective. A Christian's life, lived for Christ, may be hard or easy, but all things can give God glory. Chapter 2 frames this concept through the humility shown by Jesus Christ. His willingness to obey God the Father, even being crucified, is the ultimate example of humble service. In return, His name will be honored more than any other. Paul's instructions regarding Timothy and Epaphroditus also form a bridge to chapter 3, where Paul will contrast these good men with the dangers of false teachers.
Philippians is Paul's discussion of living the Christian life. In this letter to the church of Philippi, Paul highlights themes such as joy and glory. He also puts great emphasis on how a Christian's thinking—their attitude—affects the way they live out their faith. Paul is very thankful for the support of the Philippian church, but is also concerned about the influence of various false teachers. This letter is less theological than most of his other writings, and more practical.
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