October 27, 2014-“I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!” Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 116:1-9 ESV)
-Roman medicine first grew out of military medicinal practice, due to the military expansion of the empire. In the 1,200 year history of Rome, they first gained medical knowledge from the Greeks, from whom the Romans borrowed much.
-The Greeks placed their sick in temples in hopes that the gods would cure them. Unlike the Greeks, the Romans built hospitals for their sick. Some Romans believed that the stars caused sickness; others believed that microscopic organisms contributed to illness. Some Roman doctors were famous for diagnosing patients. Others would rely more on superstition than medical research.
-Luke was the Greek doctor who was the personal physician of the apostle Paul. (Colossians 4:14)
for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill.
1. An Urgent Longing
-“Longing” (ἐπιποθῶν) refers to an affectionate yearning.
-Affection is to long earnestly after something or someone. (1 Thessalonians 3:6; James 4:5)
-Paul repeatedly expressed the affectionate yearning he had for his spiritual children. (Romans 1:11; Philippians 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:4)
-To long after an object means to desire intensely for a particular outcome or object or person. (2 Corinthians 9:14; 1 Peter 2:2)
-To long after the object of affection means to find that object refreshing. (Psalm 42:1; Isaiah 55:1)
-To long after an object of affection means to find that object strengthening. (Psalm 18:1; Psalm 59:9)
-To long after an object of affection means to find that object a source of joy. (Philippians 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:4)
-In the Christian context, Scripture instructs believers to find God to be their greatest source of affection. (Psalm 40:7-8; Psalm 112:1)
-In the Christian context, Scripture instructs believers to desire God above all things. (Psalm 73:25-26; Psalm 84:2)
-In the Christian context, Scripture instructs believers to look to God for strength (Psalm 3:3; Psalm 28:7)—which then translates into being strengthened by other believers (2 Kings 4:8-7; 2 Timothy 1:16).
-In the Christian context, to earnestly long for God means we will earnestly long to be in fellowship with His children. (John 13:34-35; John 15:12; John 15:17)
-Epaphroditus believed the Philippians’ presence as something to be earnestly desired, for they had a reputation of being a source of joy (Philippians 1:3) and a source of strengthening (Philippians 1:19).
2. An Urgent Distress
-“Distressed” (ἀδημονῶν) means to be in anguish and to be dismayed.
-To be distressed means to be sad. (Psalm 34:18; Luke 6:21)
-To be distressed means to be restless. (Psalm 43:5; 2 Corinthians 2:13)
-To be distressed means to be absent of comfort. (Lamentations 1:16-17)
-To be distressed means to have a heavy heart. (Proverbs 25:20; Lamentations 3:20)
-To be distressed means to have a spirit of mourning. (2 Samuel 1:12; 2 Samuel 18:33; Matthew 5:4)
-To be distressed means to be grieved about the future. (Matthew 26:37)
-To be distressed means to be filled with sorrow. (Matthew 26:38; Romans 9:2)
-To be properly distressed means to be strong in the Lord even in times of distress. (Psalm 34:18; Psalm 55:22)
-To be distressed does not mean that one is devoid of all hope. (Job 19:25-26; Psalm 42:5; Psalm 42:11)
-To be distressed does not mean that one is devoid of all strength. (Psalm 23:4; Psalm 119:49-51)
-Biblically, distress is appropriate about other people (2 Kings 13:14; 2 Corinthians 11:28) and about the glory of the Lord (Psalm 119:104; Psalm 119:163). Epaphroditus was distressed for the wellbeing of the Philippians, not his own wellbeing.
3. An Urgent News
-“He was ill” (ἠσθένησεν) means to be without strength and to languish in infirmity, weakness, and disease.
-To be ill as Epaphroditus was means to be feeble. (1 Samuel 2:4; Job 4:4)
-To be ill as Epaphroditus was means to grow weaker. (2 Samuel 3:1; 1 Corinthians 8:11)
-To be ill as Epaphroditus was means to be cut short of strength. (2 Kings 19:26; Psalm 9:3)
-To be ill as Epaphroditus was means to waste away. (Psalm 31:10; Psalm 88:9)
-To be ill as Epaphroditus was means to be without any power. (Psalm 58:7; Psalm 109:24)
-To be ill as Epaphroditus was means to be completely incapable of personal recovery. (Psalm 107:12; Mark 6:56)
-To be ill as Epaphroditus was means to be without hope in one’s own capability to heal oneself. (Matthew 10:8; John 5:3-7)
-To be ill as Epaphroditus was means to be without the ability to save oneself. (Jeremiah 6:21; Lamentations 1:14)
-To be ill as Epaphroditus was means to be cut down. (Daniel 11:33-25; Acts 9:37)
-Scripture encourages us to continue to rejoice even in our weaknesses and infirmities (Psalm 68:9; 2 Corinthians 12:10), for Christ is mighty in power. (Judges 6:11-16)
-Epaphroditus urgently desired to be reunited with the Philippians in order to ensure them that he was alive and well.
Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
1. A Deadly Illness
-“Near to” (παραπλήσιον) literally means “alongside of a neighbor”. Paul reinforces the rumor that Epaphroditus was indeed sick—and he states that Epaphroditus almost died.
-Death entered the world through the fall of man. (Genesis 2:16-17; Genesis 3:17-19)
-Death entered the world through man’s sin. (Romans 5:12; Romans 6:23)
-Every aspect of God’s creation is affected by the pale of death. (Romans 8:19-22)
-Every facet of our existence is chained by sin. (James 1:15; Revelation 22:3)
-Every single individual who will ever live will one day die. (Ezekiel 18:4; Ezekiel 18:20)
-Dying severs our ability to work any longer in the work of the Lord. (John 9:4; John 12:35)
-Physical death is indicative of spiritual death. (Matthew 8:22; Luke 9:60)
-Spiritual death condemns one to Hell for eternity. (Matthew 25:46; Revelation 21:8)
-Christ redeems us from sin and death, just as He redeemed Paul, Epaphroditus, and the Philippians. (Romans 5:17; Romans 8:1-2)
-The response of the Christian is to consider that to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:20-21)
-When we die, we will be instantly united with our Lord and Savior. (Luke 23:43; Philippians 1:23)
-As Christians, we should not fear death, just as Paul did not fear death. (Luke 14:26; Revelation 12:11)
-The Lord considers it precious in His sight when His saints pass through death. (Psalm 116:15)
2. A Living Mercy
-“Mercy” (ἠλέησεν) refers to the extension of compassion to those in distress.
-God granted Epaphroditus great mercy in bringing him back from the threshold of death. (Job 33:28; Psalm 107:20)
-The response of the believer should be to cry out earnestly to God when in cases of distressing illness and impending death. (Psalm 39:12; Psalm 61:1)
-The Lord rescues the lives of His redeemed. (Psalm 103:1-5; Psalm 116:8)
-The Lord is the One who took upon Himself our grief and sorrows. (Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8:16-17)
-Jesus Christ is the One with the power to heal according to the purposes of God’s will. (Psalm 30:2; Jeremiah 17:14; Mark 5:34)
-In Scripture, the Lord rebuked those who did not rely on Him for healing. (2 Chronicles 16:4)
-In Scripture, the Spirit instructed that men look to the Lord as they sought medical help. (Mark 6:13; James 5:14-15)
-The Lord gave life to Epaphroditus in order that he could carry on in the work he had been given to do. (1 Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:9)
-The Lord gave life to Epaphroditus in order that he could continue to minister to the apostle Paul and the Philippians. (Philippians 2:25)
-The Lord gave life to Epaphroditus in order that he could continue to fight in the battle as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7)
-The Lord gave life to Epaphroditus in order that he might remain with his Christian brethren. (Philippians 1:24-25)
-The response of those who have received great mercy is that of great joy (Psalm 28:6; Psalm 106:1 Psalm 118:1), which was the response of Paul to the healing of Epaphroditus.
3. A Sorrow Avoided
-“Sorrow upon sorrow” (λύπην ἐπὶ λύπην) refers to pain and grief—and it is intensified by the repetition.
-Sorrow occurs when men are grieved at the announcement of something. (Matthew 17:22-23; Matthew 26:21-22)
-Sorrow occurs when men experience the loss of loved ones. (2 Samuel 18:33; Acts 9:39; 1 Thessalonians 4:13)
-Sorrow occurs when men think back on the past. (Jeremiah 15:18; Lamentations 1:22)
-Sorrow can produce anger. (Genesis 4:5; Genesis 45:5; 2 Samuel 13:21)
-Sorrow can produce despondency amongst a group of people. (2 Samuel 19:1-3)
-Sorrow produces a restless soul. (Psalm 55:2; 1 Samuel 1:16)
-Sorrow cannot be avoided or cast aside. (Proverbs 25:20; Psalm 137:1-2)
-When God gives mercy, believers are saved the sorrow and the pain they otherwise would encounter. (Acts 9:40-42)
-When God gives mercy, believers rejoice when their loved ones’ lives are spared. (2 Kings 4:36-37)
-Just as the Philippians looked to Paul as a source of joy and motivating progress in the faith, so did Paul look to Epaphroditus.
-Christ was a Man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3), and therefore God is the source of our comfort in the midst of our grief. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4; 2 Corinthians 7:6-7)
-God is the One who in His mercy rescues us from debilitating mental pain and sorrow. (Psalm 109:30-31)
-“In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” (Psalm 56:10-13)