Epaphroditus in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Epaphroditus: of which Epaphras is a contraction. But Epaphroditus of the Philippian church is probably distinct from Epaphras of the Colossian church. Probably a presbyter at Philippi. After Tychicus and Onesimus had departed from Rome carrying the epistles to Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, Paul was cheered by the arrival of Epaphroditus with the Philippian contribution. But that faithful "brother, companion in labor, and fellow soldier," being probably in delicate health in setting out, had brought on himself a dangerous sickness by the fatigues of the journey to Rome (Philemon 2:25-26; Philemon 2:30; Philemon 4:18). On recovery he "longed" to return to his Philippian flock, and in person relieve their anxiety on his behalf. So Paul "supposed it necessary to send Epaphroditus" to them, being "their messenger" (apostle, i.e. one of the "apostles" or "messengers of the churches " as distinct from the twelve and Paul commissioned by Christ: Romans 16:7; 2 Corinthians 8:23). Paul charges them, "Receive him in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation, because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me" (their lack having been not of the will but of the opportunity, Philemon 4:10). From the marked exhortations to "receive Epaphroditus with all gladness," etc., Alford conjectures that the "heaviness" of Epaphroditus was not solely owing to his strong affection, but that there must have been something behind respecting him.

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