on Philippians 2 :25
Epaphroditus, my brother, etc - Here is a very high character of this minister of Christ; he was,
1. A brother - one of the Christian family; a thorough convert to God, without which he could not have been a preacher of the Gospel.
2. He was a companion in labor; he labored, and labored in union with the apostle in this great work.
3. He was a fellow soldier; the work was a work of difficulty and danger, they were obliged to maintain a continual warfare, fighting against the world, the devil, and the flesh.
4. He was their apostle - a man whom God had honored with apostolical gifts, apostolical graces, and apostolical fruits; and,
5. He was an affectionate friend to the apostle; knew his soul in adversity, acknowledged him in prison, and contributed to his comfort and support.
on Philippians 2 :25
Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus - Epaphroditus is nowhere else mentioned but in this Epistle; see Philippians 4:18. All that is known of him, therefore, is what is mentioned here. He was from Philippi, and was a member of the church there. He had been employed by the Philippians to carry relief to Paul when he was in Rome Philippians 4:18, and while in Rome he was taken dangerously sick. News of this had been conveyed to Philippi, and again intelligence had been brought to him that they had heard of his sickness and that they were much affected by it. On his recovery, Paul thought it best that he should return at once to Philippi, and doubtless sent this Epistle by him. He is much commended by Paul for his faithfulness and zeal.
My brother - In the gospel; or brother Christian. These expressions of affectionate regard must have been highly gratifying to the Philippians.
And companion in labour - It is not impossible that he may have labored with Paul in the gospel, at Philippi; but more probably the sense is, that he regarded him as engaged in the same great work that he was. It is not probable that he assisted Paul much in Rome, as he appears to have been sick during a considerable part of the time he was there.
And fellow-soldier - Christians and Christian ministers are compared with soldiers Plm 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:3-4, because of the nature of the service in which they are engaged. The Christian life is a warfare; there are many foes to be overcome; the period which they are to serve is fixed by the Great Captain of salvation, and they will soon be permitted to enjoy the triumphs of victory. Paul regarded himself as enlisted to make war on all the spiritual enemies of the Redeemer, and he esteemed Epaphroditus as one who had shown that he was worthy to be engaged in so good a cause.
But your messenger - Sent to convey supplies to Paul; Philippians 4:18. The original is, "your apostle" - ὑμῶν δὲ ἀπόστολον humōn de apostolon - and some have proposed to take this literally, meaning that he was the apostle of the church at Philippi, or that he was their bishop. The advocates for Episcopacy have been the rather inclined to this, because in Philippians 1:1, there are but two orders of ministers mentioned - "bishops and deacons" - from which they have supposed that "the bishop" might have been absent, and that "the bishop" was probably this Epaphroditus. But against this supposition the objections are obvious:
(1) The word ἀπόστολος apostolos; means properly one sent forth, a messenger, and it is uniformly used in this sense unless there is something in the connection to limit it to an "apostle," technically so called.
(2) the supposition that it here means a messenger meets all the circumstances of the case, and describes exactly what Epaphroditus did. He was in fact sent as a messenger to Paul; Philippians 4:18.
(3) he was not an apostle in the proper sense of the term - the apostles having been chosen to be witnesses of the life, the teachings, the death, and the resurrection of the Saviour; see Acts 1:22; compare the notes, 1 Corinthians 9:1.
(4) if he had been an apostle, it is altogether improbable that he would have seen sent on an errand comparatively so humble as that of carrying supplies to Paul. Was there no one else who could do this without sending their bishop? Would a diocese be likely to employ a "bishop" for such a purpose now?
And he that ministered to my wants - Philippians 4:18.
on Philippians 2 :25
2:25 To send Epaphroditus - Back immediately. Your messenger - The Philippians had sent him to St. Paul with their liberal contribution.