St. Epaphroditus — A Brother, Co-Worker, Fellow Soldier, Messenger and Minister
“With regard to Epaphroditus, my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier, your messenger and minister in my need, I consider it necessary to send him to you.” —Philippians 2:25
Epaphroditus lived in the Macedonian city of Philippi (now ruins in present-day Greece), seemingly the first European city to receive Christianity, as described in the 16th chapter of Acts. At various times after evangelizing in Philippi, Paul found himself in prison due to his works in promoting Christianity. It was during one of these times of captivity (possibly in Rome, Caesarea, Corinth or Ephesus) that Epaphroditus left Philippi, sought out the imprisoned Paul, and brought him some sort of an offering — perhaps funds or supplies. Paul was very thankful for the gifts and wrote to the Philippians in gratitude.
This unique letter that Paul wrote to the Christians of Philippi has a comfortable and amiable touch to it, including words generously praising Epaphroditus. Calling him his “brother,” “co-worker,” and “fellow soldier” firmly insinuates that Epaphroditus was very dear to Paul’s heart as well as a person who worked hard to glorify God, even during times of difficulty. It appears from the letter that Epaphroditus became very ill while visiting Paul — that he almost died! When Epaphroditus recovered, Paul decided to send the believer back to Philippi (probably with the actual letter to deliver).
Paul could tell that Epaphroditus was anxious over his brethren in Philippi and that everyone in Philippi was worried about Epaphroditus, having received reports of his illness. Paul emphasized to the Philippians in his letter that Epaphroditus ought to be welcomed with joyfulness and high regard due to the way he risked death while serving Christ by traveling to help Paul. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians also reveals that Epaphroditus had a role as a “minister” in the Philippian Church. It is uncertain what exactly that responsibility entailed; however, it is fair to guess that it was a prominent role of participation.
It is believed that Epaphroditus became the first Bishop of Philippi. There is also evidence of an Epaphroditus as a bishop of Terracina, Italy, and an Epaphroditus as a bishop of Andriacia in Asia Minor. Whether these are the same as the one who visited Paul is not known with assurance.
Finding St. Epaphroditus in the Bible
The Church honors St. Epaphroditus on March 22. This Philippian saint might call out to various delivery workers, considering how he delivered a gift from the Philippians to the imprisoned Paul; and then, returned to Philippi delivering Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. Though not mentioned much in the Bible, Epaphroditus can still inspire. Spending even just two days with him, pondering and praying about his passages could bring a new light to your understanding of how things were for the early Christians of Philippi. See if your Bible has any footnotes or corresponding verses to review, and scribble down a few thoughts or insights.
- Day 1) Philippians 2:25–30
- Day 2) Philippians 4:18
- st. epaphroditus