Paul doesn’t just stop by relating the examples of Christ (obvious but difficult to emulate) and himself (an extreme case of placing the Gospel before self) but he goes on to give the Philippians even more examples worthy of imitation. It seems that those who worked with Paul, those who proved themselves useful to the cause of the Gospel, were those who gave little thought to their own desires, needs or even well-being.
Timothy is one of the heroes of early church history, but he became so by submitting himself to serve the lead and needs of others. He was long a second—a “mere” helper—to Paul. Here we learn that he can be counted upon to place the welfare of the Philippians ahead of his own. When you look to the Bible for advice and details about how leadership should look in the church, two of the three books dedicated to the subject are named after Timothy. Not that he wrote the books, they were written as advice for him; but he would not have ever been an example of leadership had he not the ultimate servant’s heart.
Epaphroditus is one of those enigmatic characters in the Bible. We only know of him from this letter. His claim to fame is an act of self-sacrifice. His service for the sake of the Gospel nearly cost him his life—not in a martyr-put-to-death sort of “romantic” fashion but simply serving in this world of everyday hazards.
These are examples for all believers. The entire second chapter of Philippians is dedicated to placing the mission, and others, ahead of our own interests and desires. That is the way every believer should approach their purpose in life.
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