But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly to you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.…
I. PAUL is the chief figure in the group.
1. lie is a prisoner, hoping and strongly expecting to be free, but not so sure whether his liberty will lead him out again on earth or usher him into heaven. Still his hope is that before long he will be with his friends. Meantime has come a messenger from Philippi with help and messages of affection. He desires not simply to send an acknowledgment — any messenger could take that — but to send some one who would help them in the highest sense.
2. Here in Rome are a number of persons who in general capability are quite equal to the service, and we can imagine the question put to them as they came to Saul's lodging — "Will you go to Philippi? It is of great consequence that evils should be checked and that spiritual knowledge and strength should be increased. Will you go? "No," says one. "The journey is hard and perilous, and success uncertain." "No," says another. "Not that I have any fear, but I prefer Rome. I can be as useful here as at Philippi." "No," says a third. "I prefer home." And so the chain is heavier on Paul's wrist, as he writes, "All seek their own," etc.
3. This, then, is the dark group we have to look at first. They are unnamed, happily. The term "all," is limited to those who were asked, and it is a verdict not on character but; in relation to one point of duty. But the failure was a great one. It cannot be a light thing for a Christian to thus shrink from duty, and to fall by our own choice from the highest and best service. Each of us has some Philippi. It may be some ordinary place or plain service, but whatever tests purity of motive and strength of principle is as great as an apostolic mission. The essence of New Testament teaching is life in Christ and for men. To the uttermost He saves; to the uttermost we are to serve.
II. Here is TIMOTHY; he will go. There is no man minded like him. He is Paul's other self. You go into a gallery of pictures, and they are all good in some way; but perhaps out of many hundreds only two or three approach the highest mark. So every Christian has the light of God on him, but how few shine with unwavering lustre: ready for every call of duty. Some lines in this picture are worthy of note.
1. Timothy has grown into this perfectness from his youth. No moral excellence is achieved suddenly. If you want to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ you must enter the service early. If you want to be fit for anything to which God may call you, begin at once and work your way up. When you are ready the call will come.
2. Another line is obedience. A good many years have passed since Paul found him at Derbe, but he has been "serving" all the time. No doubt before now he has been master to many, but he has never ceased to be a servant. Leave it to others to command, speculate, dispute in the gospel, or even to rest in it and enjoy it. A nobler and more fruitful use is to serve in it.
3. Another line is sonship. This relation is more than once referred to. "I have no man who will naturally," i.e., as a birthright.
III. The third figure is EPAPHRODITUS, pastor of the Philippian Church, bearer of a precious gift, brother, companion, fellow soldier.
1. He gave himself to the work in Rome with such eagerness that his health was undermined. The apostle could smite a sorcerer and heal the father of Publius, but he could not raise up a dear fellow labourer. Miracle power was for public uses, not private satisfactions. Those who preach the cross must bear it.
2. At length, after many fears and prayers, danger passes away. With convalescence came homesickness and a desire to relieve the anxiety of friends. Conclusion: We have been in good company. Imagination may depict the scene in Paul's chamber; but revelation has given us the moral portraiture.The lessons we may learn in such society are —
1. The importance of a sincere and thorough self-denial in the Christian character.
2. The exceeding beauty of a consecrated life.
3. The use and value of suffering.
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.