Philippians 2:26-30
Phil 2:26 (KJB)
For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.
Longed after - Desire or inner longing
Was full of heaviness - To be distressed, troubled, or depressed
It seems like Epaphroditus was in Rome for a very long time and had been suffering from homesickness as he desired to be back home with the Philippians. There was also a possibility that he was suffering from a malady called “Roman Fever.” It was a disease which struck people who visited Rome and not acclimated to the temperature and atmosphere. It was a strain of Malaria which affected Rome and there were outbreaks of it at various times. There was an outbreak of it in the fifth century A.D. and it is believed helped bring down the Roman Empire. This may have troubled Epaphroditus because if you couple physical disease with emotional distress, it would definitely bring a person close to death. Epaphroditus was also saddened because word had reached the Philippians that he was sick and he did not want to them to have any sadness because of him.
Phil 2:27 (KJB)
For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
Nigh - Near or very close
Sorrow - Sadness or grief
The initial mission of Epaphroditus was basically to bring Paul a financial gift, he turned out to be more of a gift of comfort and strength to the Apostle Paul. Whatever sickness he was struck with, God’s will for him was to be healed. Paul was so close to him that not only did he consider God having mercy on Epaphroditus, but also on him. If he would have lost him, Paul would have lost a very good companion which would have multiplied his grief. I am sure it was sorrowful to be stuck in prison but when you lose someone who has become a close confidant, it would make sorrow seem doubled.
Phil 2:28 (KJB)
I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.
The more carefully - hastily, speedily, or earnest
Epaphroditus was much more capable of glorifying the Lord after being healed from this malady. Paul, therefore, sent him back to Philippi in hopes that when he is received by them there would a great rejoicing because of the healing he had received. Paul stated by sending him back, he would be less sorrowful. Maybe Epaphroditus, in his depression, maybe was starting to affect the Apostle Paul, and Paul saw their reuniting as a thing which would bring much joy, not only to the Philippians but also to him. When Paul would receive word back that their reuniting was a joyful experience, it would help alleviate some of the sorrow caused by him being in prison. This shows the concern Paul had for both Epaphroditus and the Philippians. His joy was made full when they were united again and this meant Paul was without Epaphroditus, who was Paul’s close companion.
Phil 2:29 (KJB)
Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:
In reputation - Held in honor or valued
Paul shows that he is honoring Epaphroditus as he instructs the Philippians to receive him with all joy. The word “receive” is in the Imperative mood making it a command to receive him in the Lord. This means that Epaphroditus was not to receive the glory for the work done but when it is done in the Lord, God gets the glory for what is accomplished. We must always keep in mind that the Bible teaches that we can do nothing without him. (John 15:5) This means that whatever strides are made in Christendom, it is done by the power of God and not us. Yet, the Scriptures do not reject the idea that a Christian may be honored for the work they have done. (Heb 6:10 KJV) For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
Phil 2:30 (KJB)
Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.
Not regarding - Having no concern for one’s life or disregard risk
Lack - Deficiency
This may be the insight as to the cause or the actual malady Epaphroditus suffered from. It seems he was very much involved and probably was on the edge of burn out in the work of the Lord. It may have weakened his body so much that he was susceptible to diseases with a weakened immune system. He was so busy that he had no concern for himself as he was a person who was other centered. Here we see that there was lack of service to Paul from the Philippians and maybe Epaphroditus was trying to fill that breach. Maybe Paul had requested that others from the congregation come to him to help him and Epaphroditus in the work of the Lord and no one volunteered to come. Maybe this is why Paul had mentioned in a previous verse that “all seek their own.” No one wanted to leave their jobs and businesses for the work of the Lord. Nothing has changed in 2,000 years. How many Christian parents today encourage their children to become missionaries instead of encouraging them to get a degree and good paying job? Quite frankly, I don’t know one!