4. Personal information.

The forthcoming visit of Timothy and Epaphroditus


Paul moves on to deal with some personal issues. Although he hopes to visit the Philippian church some time in the future, his plan is to send Timothy to them as soon as his present legal problems are sorted out. In the meantime, he will send Epaphroditus with the hope that the congregation will receive him warmly.


i] Context: See 2:1-4. This Pauline travelogue has caused commentators difficulty due to it's placement at this point in the letter. It would seem more appropriate to place it toward the end of the letter after the central argument, 2:1-3:21. Silva argues that in this thank-you letter, Paul gives prominence "to informing the church in Philippi concerning his affairs and plans." For this reason, Silva entitles this section a Resumption of Paul's Missionary Report. So, rather than personal information haphazardly in-dispersed throughout the letter, we have pastoral warnings, exhortations and issues nestled in a thank-you letter concerning Paul's affairs and plans. Possibly an even better theory is that proposed by Funk in The Apostolic Parousia, 1967. He argues that the placement of the travelogue here is a feature letter-writing in the Greco-Roman world where the author seeks to convey their authority to the reader. This works well as the letter moves into refutatio, a refutation of the Judaizers.


ii] Background: See 1:1-11.


iii] Structure: Further Missionary Matters:

Matters concerning the visit of Timothy, v19-24;

Matters concerning the visit of Epaphroditus, v25-30.


iv] Interpretation:

Paul reminds the Philippians that he still wants to visit the church again, and hopes that he will soon be able to do just that, v24. In the meantime Paul does have a plan to send Timothy to minister to the church on his behalf. It seems likely that the Philippians are aware of this plan and so Paul is at pains to explain how important Timothy is to him in the present circumstances, but that none-the-less he still intends to send Timothy to them some time in the future. Paul is implying that he can't send Timothy to them just yet, but will do so in the future. In the meantime he will send Epaphroditus as his representative. If, as seems the case, the Philippians were expecting a visit from Timothy, rather than Epaphroditus, then Paul's positive words concerning him and his request that they "welcome him in the Lord with great joy", will help pave the way for his visit.

The example of Christ's humility fleshed out in 2:5-11 empowers Paul's proposition, 1:27-30. Yet, it is also reflected in the personal information covering 2:19-30. Paul presents three examples of service. There is his own willingness to have his martyrdom credited to the Philippians' account, there is Timothy's dedicated service, and there is Epaphroditus' devoted gospel service. All three men display Christ's humility. By this means Paul's reasserts his authority and power.

Text - 2:19

Paul's missionary report continues, v19-30: i] Matters concerning the visit of Timothy, v19-24. Paul's point in simple enough: "I hope ... to send timothy to you as quickly as possible ............. (v23) as soon as I see how things go with me."

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument.

en + dat. "in [the Lord Jesus]" - [i hope] in [the lord jesus]. Local, sphere, "the sphere in which Paul and his colleagues act and think", Bruce, possibly incorporative union, "in union with the Lord Jesus." This phrase heads toward the idiomatic sense here, eg., "as a Christian / as a Christian brother", or "if the Lord wishes it to be so", TH, so O"Brien.

pemyai (pempw) aor. inf. "to send" - [soon] to send [timothy]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul hopes.

uJmin dat. pro. "to you" - Dative of indirect object.

tacewV adv. "soon" - Modal adverb; "as quickly as possible."

iJna + subj. "that" - that. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose, "in order that / so that."

gnouV (ginwskw) aor. part. "when I receive news" - [i also may be encouraged] knowing. The participle is adverbial, taken as temporal by NIV

ta "-" - the things. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the prepositional phrase "about you" into a substantive, "the things concerning you" = "your affairs", Fee. Possibly an accusative of respect, "knowing about the things concerning you" = "so that, having news of you ("of how things are going with you", Barclay), I may be cheered in heart", Cassirer.

peri + gen. "about [you]" - concerning [you]. Reference / respect.


Expressing the deep friendship Paul has with Timothy and the likeminded affection Timothy has for the Philippians.

gar "-" - for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul intends to send Timothy to visit the Philippians, namely, because "I have nobody else with a genuine interest in your well-being", Phillips.

isoyucon adj. "like him" - [i have no one] like-souled, equal in soul. The adjective serves as a substantive, "a likeminded person", accusative complement of the accusative direct object "nobody", standing in a double accusative construction; "in sympathy with your outlook", Caird. "My thoughts are his thoughts", TH = "we are best mates."

ghnsiwV adv. "genuine concern" - [of such a kind who will] genuinely, sincerely [care for]. "He is the one man who will take a genuine interest in your affairs", Barclay.

ta peri uJmwn "your welfare" - the things concerning you. See above.


Paul observes that Timothy, unlike many believers in Rome, is not self-obsessed. "Too many put their own interests before those of others", Bruce.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why Timothy will show genuine concern for the Philippians' welfare, because unlike many others, he has proved himself.

oiJ "everyone" - the [all]. The article nominalizes the adjective "all, every", so "everyone"; subject of the verb "to seek." "Everyone else is concerned only with their own affairs", TEV. The "everyone" ("all of them in contrast to part of them", Fee) is not identified; a rather sweeping statement.

ta "-" - [seek] the things [of themselves, not] the things [of jesus christ]. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the reflective adjective into a substantive. Repeated with the genitive "Jesus Christ" = the things of Jesus Christ.

eJautwn gen. reflex. pro. "their own [interests]" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

Ihsou Cristou (oV) gen. "of Jesus Christ" - The genitive may be taken as adjectival, possessive, "the cause of Jesus Christ", TEV, or ablative, source / origin, so Varner.


Timothy was a member of the missionary team that brought the gospel to Philippi. This, with his support for Paul's gospel ministry, proves his worth.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional indicating a step in the argument, "as for Timothy, you know that he has proved himself .....", but possible a step to a contrast, as NIV.

oJti "because" - [you know the worth of him] because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why they know Timothy's worth, because they have witnessed his devoted service to Paul and the gospel. "You know how he has stood the test (proved his worth)", Moffatt.

wJV "as [a Father]" - like, as [a child with a father]. Here as a comparative; "working with me for the gospel like a son (works loyally) with a father", Phillips. "He has worked with me just like a son would work with his father", TH. There is a sense where Paul sees himself as Timothy's spiritual father; here they work together for the gospel, just as a father and son work together at a trade.

sun + dat. "with [me]" - [he served] with [me]. Expressing accompaniment / association.

eiV + acc. "in the work of" - into. Here possibly just, reference / respect, "with respect to the gospel", or better, advantage / benefit, "for the sake of the gospel", TEV. Other possibilities include: in place of a local en, as NIV; or purpose / end-view, "in order to promote the gospel." Panikulam, Koinwnia, argues that eiV + acc. often "indicates a dynamic activity in progress", so "for the spread of the gospel", Zerwick, "advancement of the gospel", Barclay, "furtherance of the gospel", Fee, "promoting the gospel", O'Brien; cf., 1:5.

to euaggelion (oV) "the gospel" - the important news. Regularly used of God's important news / communication with humanity, namely the announcement of the inauguration / realization of God's long-promised kingdom. Often paraphrased "good news", but it is only good for those who repent and enter the kingdom.


Paul again confirms that he will be sending Timothy to the Philippians. We are best to follow the NIV rendering of the Gk. which implies that as soon as Paul gets an inkling (afidw) of how his trial is going he will then send Timothy to them. Hawthorne, also Silva, suggest the sense is "as soon as I see about my affairs", implying that Timothy is at present rendering important assistance to Paul and can't be spared.

men ..... de "-" - on the one hand [this one therefore i hope to send immediately whenever i see the things concerning me will turn out] (v24) but on the other hand [i have confidence in lord that indeed i myself will come quickly]. Adversative comparative construction.

oun "therefore" - Inferential; drawing a logical conclusion.

pemyai (pempw) aor. inf. "to send" - The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul hopes, namely, to send Timothy to the Philippian congregation once there is a resolution of his imprisonment.

touton pro. "he" - Emphatic by position, ie., it heads the Gk. sentence.

wJV an + subj. "as soon as [I see]" - whenever [i see]. This construction expresses indefinite future time, as NIV. The verb afidw means "to look away from toward", a kind of "wait and see" approach; I will send him to you once I get an inkling of how my trial is going to work out"

ta "how things go [with me]" - the things [concerning me]. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the prepositional phrase "concerning me" into a substantive. The preposition peri + acc. expresses reference / respect.

exauthV adv. "-" - A shortened form of ex authV thV wJraV, "from which time" = "soon thereafter." Serving as a slight qualification. Paul will send Timothy once he gets an inkling of how things are going, not necessarily immediately, but certainly "soon thereafter."


"And then I am hoping and praying to be right on his heals", Peterson.

en kuriw/ (oV) dat. "in the Lord" - As in v19, cf., 1:14. Local, space / metaphorical, as in resting upon. An idiomatic sense seems likely, eg., "I have full confidence, placing my trust in ("on", ??) the Lord, that I shall likewise be coming to you before long", Cassirer.

oJti "that" - that [indeed i will come myself]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing the content of Paul's confidence, namely, that he will be coming to visit the Philippians soon.

tacewV adv. "soon" - quickly. Modal adverb; not "right away", but "quickly" in the sense of "at once after I see how things go with me", Fee.


ii] Matters concerning the visit of Epaphroditus, v25-30. Paul intends to send Epaphroditus, an emissary from the Philippian church and now an emissary from Paul, back to Philippi before he knows the outcome of his trial, and so before he sends Timothy to them.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating the next step in the argument and so left untranslated, rather than serving as an adversative, as NIV; "I have thought it necessary .....", ESV.

anagkaion adj. "[I think it is] necessary" - [i consider to send epaphroditus to you, the brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier of me, but apostle of you and servant of the need of me] a necessity. Emphatic by position. The adjective "necessary" serves as a substantive, "a necessity", complement of the infinitival construction, "to send ....", which serves as the direct object of the verb "to consider" (so introducing a dependent statement of perception), serving in a double accusative construction. Varner treats "a necessity" as the direct object of the verb and the infinitival construction as epexegetic, specifying / explaining "a necessity"; "I consider it a necessity, namely, to send to you ...." Cf., 2Cor.9:5 for a similar syntactical construction.

ton adelfon (oV) "[my] brother" - As with "fellow-worker", "fellow soldier", "apostle" and "servant", the noun stands in apposition to "Epaphroditus". Note the servant and military descriptives used of Christian ministry. The "apostle" here is most likely "messenger", as NIV. Epaphroditus is not being identified as one of the apostles; he is their messenger, not their apostle. The word leitourgon is used of one who serves or ministers, but not necessarily in a cultic setting. Here obviously as NIV.

thV creiaV (a) gen. "[whom you sent to take care] of [my] needs" - [servant] of the need [of me]. The genitive is usually treated as verbal, objective, as NIV; "who has been ministering to my needs."


Paul now explains why he is sending Epaphroditus back to Philippi - he is homesick. It seems likely that the Philippians expected Epaphroditus to stay with Paul and to minister to his needs, which is probably why Paul mentions his illness, his anxiety to get him home and his desire that the church welcomes him back.

epeidh "for" - because. The causal conjunction serves to introduce a causal clause explaining why Paul is sending Epaphroditus home.

epipoqwn (epipoqew) pres. part. "he longs for" - he was [yearning after you all and being homesick]. The present participl,e with the imperfect verb to-be, forms a periphrastic imperfect construction. So also adhmonwn, "being heavy = very distressed." This construction is probably emphasizing durative aspect / imperfective; "he was homesick to see you all", Barclay.

dioti "because" - Causal conjunction.

oJti "that" - [you heard] that [he was sick]. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what they heard.


"He was certainly ill, Paul adds; indeed, his illness nearly proved fatal", Bruce. Hanson thinks that Paul is wanting to clarify the report the Philippians had received regarding the ill-health of Epaphroditus. It seems they may have minimized its seriousness.

gar "-" - for. More reason than cause; explanatory.

kai "indeed" - and. It is not clear how the conjunction functions here, possibly emphatic, as NIV, but see BDF #452.3.

paraplhsion adj. "almost" - coming near. This adjective, "near", when neuter, as here, serves as a preposition + dat., here adverbial, as NIV; "nearly died."

qanatw/ (oV) dat. "died" - to death. Dative after the improper preposition "near to."

alla "but" - but [god had mercy on him, and not on him only] but [and = also on me]. Adversative, as NIV.

iJna mh + subj. "to" - that not = lest [i should have sorrow upon sorrow] Introducing a negated purpose clause, "in order not ....", or result, "so that ..." The sorrow that Paul would have felt had Epaphroditus died.

epi + acc. "upon" - Spacial, expressing "in addition to = upon."


Whether or not the Philippians intended Epaphroditus to stay some time with Paul, he has decided to send him home sooner than expected. We can only guess at Paul's motive, eg., "since he (Epaphroditus) had been deathly ill and was now miraculously well, Paul was more eager to sent him home", Hansen. "Paul himself would be the more relieved to think of the mutual joy that Epaphroditus and his friends in Philippi would experience when they were safely reunited", Bruce.

oun "therefore" - Inferential; drawing a logical conclusion.

epemya (pempw) aor. "to send [him]" - i sent [him more hastily]. Epistolary aorist; "I am sending", Cassirer. The modifying comparative adverb spoudaioterwV takes the sense "more hastily", Hawthorne; "more hastily than I would have done otherwise", Varner, "with special urgency", BDAG.

iJna "so that" - Here serving to introduce a purpose clause; "in order that ..."

idonteV (oJraw) aor. part. "when you see [him]" - having seen [him again]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV.

kagw "and I" - [you may rejoice] and i [may be]. Crasis, kai + ego.

alupoteroV comp. adj. "less anxiety" - freer from pain. Predicate comparative adjective; The adjective takes the sense "free from anxiety", BDAG, with the comparative being "less anxious", Varner. "And my sorrow will disappear", TEV.


Paul, getting to the point, calls on the Philippian believers to welcome Epaphroditus, and to do so joyfully; "most warmly", Phillips. The service being offered in carrying Paul's letter is certainly not extraordinary, but as Jesus taught his disciples, the lowliest service deserves the greater honor.

oun "so then" - therefore [welcome him]. Inferential; drawing a logical conclusion. Note that the imperative "welcome" takes the present tense which, being durative, gives the sense "be welcoming."

en kuriw/ (oV) "in the Lord" - in lord. Local, expressing sphere, or adverbial, modal, expressing manner, ..... See v24. "As a fellow brother in the Lord" = "as a believer."

meta + gen. "with [great joy]" - with [all joy]. Expressing association / accompaniment, "in company with" = "accompanied with joy", or adverbial, "with joy" = "joyfully".

entimouV adj. "honor" - precious. Accusative complement of the accusative direct object "such ones", standing in a double accusative construction.

touV toioutouV pro. "people like him" - [have, hold] such ones [precious]. The pronoun serves as a substantive, accusative object of the verb "to have, hold."


"He risked his life to do for me in prison what distance prevented you all from doing", Phillips. The Philippian congregation was not able to come to Rome and minister to Paul in prison, but a representative could do that on their behalf. Epaphroditus, on their behalf, gave himself in service to Paul in the cause of Christ, even to the point of death.

oJti "because" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why Epaphroditus deserves to be joyfully welcomed and honored, "because ...."

mecri + gen. "[he almost died]" - [he came near] up to [death]. Temporal preposition. Unnecessary, given the verb "to come near to."

dia + acc. "for" - because of, on account of. Here expressing advantage; "for the sake of the work of Christ."

Cristou (oV) gen. "[the work] of Christ" - Varner classifies the adjectival genitive as verbal, subjective, "the work done on Christ's behalf", Cassirer, "he has earned this honor by working so hard in the service of the Master", Junkins, or objective, "working for Christ", "his loyalty to Christ", Phillips, or possessive, "for the sake of Christ's work", Barclay, or idiomatic, "the work / service which Christ has called him to perform."

paraboleusamenoV (paraboleuomai) aor. mid. part. "he risked" - having risked = having gambled with. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "he came near to", "he came to the brink of death and endangered his life", Berkeley, or adverbial, best treated as instrumental, expressing means, "by risking his life", Moffatt.

th/ yuch/ (h) dat. "his life" - the = his life. Dative of direct object after the para prefix participle "having risked."

iJna + subj. "to [make up for]" - that [he might fill up]. Serving to introduce a final clause expressing purpose; "in order to make up for / complete the service you were not able to render to me."

thV .... leitourgiaV (a) gen. "the help" - [what is lacking of you] of the service. The genitive is usually classified as verbal, objective, "to makeup for the service", Berkeley, but possibly adverbial, "so that he might, by his service to me, makeup as much as was in his power for that which was still lacking ...", Cassirer.

uJmwn gen. pro. "you yourselves" - of you. The adjectival genitive may be classified as verbal subjective, "the service which you yourselves could not give", Barclay, or possessive, "your deficiency" = "your limited opportunity for service to me."

proV "[could not give me]" - toward [me]. Spacial, direction; "what is lacking in your service to me", ESV.


Philippians Introduction

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