Philippians TWO: 19-24

“Heavenly Father, today we pray for the Elders in our church, the priests and pastors, bishops and senior pastors who lead us as St. Timothy led his flock in Ephesus. Thank you Heavenly Father, for our clergy.”

19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. 20 For I have no man likeminded, who will care [a]truly for your state. 21 For they all seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ. 22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a child serveth a father, so he served with me in furtherance of the [b]gospel. 23 Him therefore I hope to send forthwith, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me: 24 but I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall come shortly. Link to ASV Text.

We are coming to the end of chapter two and now St. Paul shifts his focus. He begins to look toward the future. And thus he discusses the plans he and Timothy and Epaphroditus have been making. The IVP Commentary discusses vs. 19-30 as one section with two parts. Most interesting is their assessment of this section and the reason for the letter. The three essays, one on vs. 19, one on vs. 20-22 and the third on vs. 23-24 explain in detail the situation as Paul, Timothy and, apparently, Epaphroditus see it. It seems to me that Epaphroditus not only brought a gift to Paul and Timothy, but he also came seeking their advice and help about the situation in Philippi. 

So, according to the IVP…Paul, Timothy and, I suppose, Epaphroditus, worked out a plan to address the situation/problem in Philippi. Paul writes this letter for Epaphroditus to take back to Philippi. Then Timothy makes a visit. Finally, Paul himself will visit them. That’s like an Eastern Orthodox Primate or a Roman Catholic Cardinal or even the Pope coming to visit.

I have had the pleasure of being present when the Primate of my denomination came for a visit. We prepared for this event for months. The carpet and the pew chairs were professionally cleaned. We had our Southern Evangelical favorite, the Pot Luck Dinner. Someone made sure there were deviled eggs and potato salad and cake; and of course, BBQ. And the punch bowl was kept full of our favorite fruit punch. I’m not being sarcastic here. This was a big deal. The Apostle, St. Paul, coming to visit them was also a very big deal. They would want to plan for it. 

However, he was coming to help solve some problems. And that would need some diplomatic touches. The IVP Commentary gets into this in detail. In their explanation of Paul’s commendation of Timothy they spend many words examining vs. 21. The comparison is between Timothy and those in Philippi who are not putting Christ first. For example, the Circumcision Party, which he addresses in 3:2-3. 

Matthew Henry made some interesting observations about this text concerning persons in ministry. 

If you would like to know more about St. Timothy, you can check out Wikipedia for a nice summary of St. Timothy’s biography. Other short biographies of St. Timothy can be found at Christianity.com and the Orthodox Church in America websites. Finally, for those who really enjoy church history, there is an article in Wikipedia about a book titled The Acts of Timothy.

This is a short section that, on first glance, does not seem all that important. However, after reading the commentary from IVP, I see that St. Paul was not one to waste words. Everything he wrote was for a purpose. One of the nice things, from my viewpoint, about this sort of Bible Study is that you can take your time to study the commentaries and other support texts. You don’t have to have it all read and researched by 7:00 pm on Thursday.  You can take the time to enjoy reading, researching and meditating on Holy Scripture. 

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