Thursday, 26 January 2017
…because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me. Philippians 2:30
There are several variations in Greek texts which are argued among scholars. Determining which is the correct and original is important, but apparently no variation is of great weight, and does not change the overall intent of the words.
The words, “…because for the work of Christ he came close to death” are still talking about Ephaphroditus. His efforts in his duties probably wore him down physically to the point where he was without the ability to ward off sickness. It shows the mental determination of a person who was willing to put the needs of Paul, and the work of Christ, ahead of his own personal well-being. In this determined state, Paul says that he was “not regarding his own life.”
The correct Greek wording is argued here, but Vincent’s Word Studies notes that his choice of the original indicates “to venture, to expose one’s self. It was also a gambler’s word, to throw down a stake. Hence Paul says that Epaphroditus recklessly exposed his life.” The Greek word was used as a descriptor in the early church for those who took care of the sick at the risk of their own lives. Thus they were the “reckless people.”
Epaphroditus was so engaged in his duties that he fell into this category. And this was, according to Paul, “to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.” The wording in the English almost makes it sound like a reproach, but Greek scholars ensure us that the Greek carries no such implication. Rather, it was simply that he filled up a need which could not be filled up otherwise. Rather than a rebuke, it is a compliment. He was sent by them to fill this need, and the need was then met.
Life application: We have one shot at this life. Should we stay in bed and get a bit more sleep? Should we go see one more movie instead of dedicating that time to the Lord? In the end, we all need a break from our labors, but the more frivolous activities we engage in, the less we are doing for His glory. Each of us should be willing to say, “Use me up now Lord. This one life is for You.”
Use me up now Lord. This earthly life I live is for You! Amen.