I Have No One Else Like Him
Key Verse 2:20
“I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.”
As we have said many times over, Paul was in prison while he wrote this letter to the Philippian church. Chapter 2 began with a beautiful exhortation to them to be a loving fellowship of believers, full of compassion; united in purpose, doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility considering others better than themselves. “Each of you” he says “should look not to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (2:4) His words to them at the beginning of the chapter are almost fictional to the unspiritual mind. Only a Christian would understand and agree to Paul’s words. Only the spiritual mind knows that this kind of attitude is crucial to the wellbeing of the Christian and to the church. Paul then went on in this chapter to explain why a church ought to behave like this. He then sings a song of glory to the Lord Jesus and expounds on the attitude and mind of Christ. Christ is humble and full of servantship. Christ himself looked not to his own interests but to our own interests when he gave up his life on the cross for our sins. And God Almighty exalted him to the highest place and made him Lord and Savior. Paul then urged the church at Philippi to continue in their obedience to the gospel of God’s grace. Don’t complain, he said, and don’t argue. Rather he asked them to live as the blameless children of God and continue to shine the light of the gospel in and through their lives. In brief he wanted them to have the mind and attitude of Christ.
Remarkably he ends this chapter with an example of two servants of God who have the mind and attitude of Christ. Actually Paul needed to mention them in his letter to the Philippians for good reason, but in mentioning them, we see that Paul may have purposely mentioned them in this chapter as exemplary persons who personified the mind and attitude of Christ Jesus. On one hand, he needed to send Timothy to them to inform them of his own prison details. On the other hand he needed to send Epaphroditus to them because he was their own pastor who needed to return to the care of his own church. But Paul didn’t merely inform them of sending these two servants back to them. He elaborated on each of their characters, so as to explain each man’s Christ mindedness. I can’t but think about something here. Timothy and Epaphroditus had a certain reputation in the church among the people of God, because their lives spoke for them. What might your reputation be if someone asked about you?
Read verse 19. “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.” Paul was deeply concerned for them that they receive news about him. At the same time, he would also like to receive news about them. So he wanted to send someone to them whom he trusts, someone he could rely on whom could represent him in his absence. Whom could he send? Of all the people that were qualified to serve in the Christian ministry at large around Paul in the day, Paul could only think of Timothy. And for many good reasons too. He lists them here in this text in his description of Timothy in a way that helps us see the man Timothy in a very special way. So what kind of a man was he? And why did Paul choose him of all people to represent him at Philippi?
Loop at verse 19 again. “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.” He says here: “That I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.” Paul not only wanted Timothy to deliver news about Paul to the Philippian church, but he also wanted Timothy to bring him back some news from them. And that is not a small responsibility at all for a servant of God. Apparently, Timothy was clearly a man of encouragement because he is charged with the responsibility of bringing good news to Paul about the church. He is charged with bringing back “cheering news”. There were probably many bad things to report about in that church because as we know every church has its load of problems and weaknesses. This church was no different. One only needed look to see the faults and shortcomings of the members. In view of verse 14, we can imagine the kinds of complaints and arguments members might have had one against the other. The report Timothy might have for Paul would not at all be encouraging. But Paul uniquely chose to send Timothy with an express purpose to bring back an encouraging report. In other words Timothy is unique in the sense that in spite of some of the struggles that might have been happening in the church, he had the spiritual eyes to see the good things the Lord is doing and to appreciate them over and above the bad and discouraging things.
Timothy was a spiritual man with keen eyes to recognize encouraging things of God. Immature or legalistic eyes can only see what is wrong and bad and cannot see what is good and right. Even if they see the good things the Lord is doing in a person’s life or in the church, their tendency is to overlook them and to drown out what is good and to emphasize what is wrong or bad. But the spiritual man sees the good the Lord is doing and rejoices in it. Timothy was such a man of God. Paul had trained him to see the hand of God at work and to give glory to God for it. Paul never overlooked what the Lord is doing in the lives of his people in spite of their struggle with sin and temptation. Of course Paul never ignored dealing with the problem of sin and temptation when he encountered them in the church. But he didn’t focus on them. He focused on the Lord’s good and encouraging work in his people’s lives. He taught his son Timothy to do the same. He was certain that God who began a good work in those Philippian Christians was also bringing that good work to completion— even if there were problems in the church along the way. He was certain that Timothy would be sure to see the Lord’s hand at work and bring back an encouraging report to Paul. We really need to pray that God give us spiritual eyes to see the good work the Lord is doing among us even amidst the mistakes, faults and shortcomings that seem to overwhelm the church and its members at times.
Read verse 20. “I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.” Paul says “I have no one like him”. In the original, the word is “I have no one like-minded” or of “kindred-spirit” Or better yet, we can say that what Paul was saying about Timothy was that Timothy was “One-Souled” with him. In other words he was one in feeling, one in thought, one in heart with Paul in everything. He was one-souled with the great teacher. He attached himself to Paul in the same way perhaps that the Apostle John attached himself to the Lord Jesus. Timothy was young when he received the gospel and dedicated his life to Christ. And Paul became like a father to him and mentored him in the life of faith. He often encouraged him to fan into flames the gift of God in his life. He may not have had the courage nor the strength to use his God-given gifts. But Paul helped him until he was able to overcome his weaknesses and to stand as a gospel worker with confidence which comes from faith. Timothy loved the Lord and really wanted to do the Lord work. He deeply appreciated Paul’s love and mentorship in his life to raise him as a gospel worker. For this reason he became one-souled with Paul, a kindred-spirit who understood Paul’s heart and mind and shared in the same work, the work of establishing the church and of spreading the gospel. Paul really had no one like him.
I wonder how many Timothys the church has today, young men and women who are learning from older gospel workers, and being lovingly mentored by them until they to can say we have no one like them. Today young people aspire to be what the world wants them to be and not many desire to be one-souled with God’s servants to share with them their aspirations.
Look what Timothy and Paul shared together! Here’s another reason why Paul valued Timothy so much— another reason why there was no one like him. Read verse 20 again: “I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.” He “takes genuine interest in your welfare”. It seems that Timothy shared especially in Paul’s love for the church of the Lord, and especially the church at Philippi. His interest or concern for them was not superficial nor half hearted. It was a deep genuine interest and concern that can only come from the loving heart of our Savior.
We need to read verse 21 before we go on. “For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” Here we have truly one of the saddest most disturbing yet illuminating verses in the bible. It shines light on the condition of the Christian church, perhaps the church of all time. For the most part, verse 21 tells our own story. “For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” We know from verse 23 that although Paul was going to send Timothy to them, he was going to delay doing so until he knew how things were going to turn out with him first. So perhaps Paul would have preferred to send someone else besides Timothy to the Philippians. But when he thought about them, no one could be found from among these Christian men and women whom he could send. They were all looking out for their own interest not those of Jesus Christ. What does it mean? It does not mean they were not faithful nor does it mean that they were all engaged in sinful activity. Simply, it means that they were all only concerned about themselves, their own affairs, their daily matters, their jobs, their own struggles and whatever was to their own interest and no more. The church and Christ’s interests were laid aside as secondary. Christ and his interests were not a priority as it should be!
Paul says that they were not looking out for the interests of Jesus Christ. What are the interests of Jesus Christ? Jesus said; “The kingdom of God is near repent and believe the good news.” (Mk 1:15) Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the dead so that repentance and forgiveness might be preached and new life in Christ might be proclaimed to all people. What are the interests of Christ? Surely his interests are not that we ignore his kingdom work, for the sake of our own selfish interests. Christ interests must burn in our hearts and compel us to put aside everything in the cause of serving his glory. Even if we lose everything else, his interests must come first. Paul was sorry that no one was found whose interest are those of Christ Jesus except for Timothy. He needed him to remain with him. But he had to send him because no one else could be found who had their interest at heart. It was a tragic reality. Yet even one with Christ’s interests was encouragement enough to swell Paul’s heart with joy.
while everyone else was devoted to their own interest, taking care of their own affairs, looking after their own welfare, Timothy was different. He was genuinely concerned about them. Timothy loved the church at Philippi. He loved the church because he loved Christ. Verse 21 tells us that their welfare was in the interest of Christ. Why is their welfare in the interest of Christ? Because the church is the bride of Christ and Christ is deeply concerned with his bride and her welfare. Of course the Lord is interested in each of our own welfare individually. But we cannot deny that he loves the church and cares deeply that the church is healthy and well taken care of. Paul understood this and prayed for them and counseled them in the word of God on how to mature as a healthy body of believers in a healthy relationship with the Lord and with one another. His teachings to them were not only centered on how to live the Christian life but on how to grow in an intimate relationship with the head of the church who is Christ Jesus. his concern for the church was the same as the Lord Jesus’ own interest. Timothy learned this from Paul his spiritual father. He too made the church his own concern as well. He made the Lord’s interest his own, and concerned himself genuinely with the church at Philippi. He wanted to see the church grow in their love relationship with the Lord and with each other. He wanted to see the church unite and take a stand on the gospel. He wanted them to share the gospel with others and prosper in the community.
What is the Lord’s interests here and now? It doesn’t change much. The Lord’s interest is still the kingdom of God, the souls of men; but most of all his body, his bride, the church— as Paul says “your welfare”— the welfare of the church. Today’s Christians are far too occupied with their own affairs to show concern for the welfare of the church. They use the church mostly to their own welfare. Some use the church to their own advantage. Some use the church as a cover for their double life. Some use it to promote their own prosperity, or their own spiritual life and that of their own children and families. They are concerned much with personal affairs and their own agendas. And rarely do we find those who are genuinely concerned with the interests of Christ. Those are the ones who serve the church at the very high cost of their own interests. They sacrifice much in order to serve the church because they understand that the church is precious to the Lord. They come to church to give rather than to take. They come to serve rather than to be served. They come to bless rather than to be blessed. Timothy was the ideal person to send to this Philippians church not only because he was Paul’s assistant but because he was Christ’s servant and the one who has Christ’s interest at heart.
We have a small church here. It couldn’t have been built if there weren’t those among us whose genuine interest weren’t Christ’s interest. The Pitts family, the Norte family, the Alonzo family, the Heusel families; the Magno family, the Kasongo family, the Moon family and the Morla family have all had Christ’s interest at heart because they have genuinely concerned themselves with this church and its interest over and above their own interests. Only God knows the kind of sacrifices they have had to make in the course of laying down the bricks that built up this body of Christ. Every church has its Timothys who’s genuine concerns have been its source of blessing. This campus we have been entrusted with by God is another of Christ’s personal interests. Christ is very much interested in it because the souls of so many students are perishing every day for lack of Truth. Who will show genuine concern and interest for their welfare? We cannot sit idly by while these young people die in their sins as we possess the gospel of their salvation— the very truth that can set them free and give them life in Jesus. We need not one, not two, but several Timothys who will be inspired to take up the mantle of Christ’s interests and genuine concern and cut the path to the heart of Triton— at any cost— because no cost is too high to save their souls. May God raise up a few Timothys among us who would take a genuine interest in the welfare of this church and its mission to serve Triton College.
Read verse 22. “But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.” Paul tells the Philippians and us that “Timothy has proved himself” This is another reason Paul trusts him and would send him to them. This young man has many virtues. Paul had listed some of them already. But this virtue is indeed amazing! Literally Timothy would be representing Paul, reporting on Paul’s situation, assessing the situation of the church, giving counsel where needed and finally reporting to Paul the cheering news Paul wanted to hear! Who on earth can fill these shoes? Only one who had genuinely proven himself. The question is how did Timothy prove himself? Paul explains how in the same verse. He says” “because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.” That’s how he proved himself trustworthy. Sometimes a convert later turns against the one who brought him to Christ. Some of Paul’s converts had turned against him and slandered him. They may have been the ones who cared more about their own glory than the glory of Christ. Anyway it was pretty painful to Paul. It’s like a child turning against his parents. It happens in the Christian world. It happened to Paul many times. He suffered that anguish. But Timothy was different. He was faithful. He was discipled and loved and served by Paul. He learned much from him. He never betrayed that grace. As Paul bore Timothy’s weaknesses, Timothy also learned to bear Paul’s weaknesses. It was a fellowship of love and mutual respect between them. In the end Timothy grew to become Paul’s close and faithful co-worker. Paul could trust him. In that way he was a trustworthy saint. He had proven himself.
Read verses 23-25. “I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon. But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.” Paul wanted so much to come and see them himself but he couldn’t because he was in prison. So he would send Timothy as soon as he was able to send him. Meanwhile, he would send the next best person, Epaphroditus, who was the Philippians’ own pastor. They had sent him to Paul while Paul was in prison to tend to Paul’s needs and to bring him news and supplies. Now Paul was very eager, as was Epaphroditus himself to be sent back to his church and congregation. From Paul’s words regarding the man we can learn many things about him as well. Paul loved him and deeply respected him. He was another man with the mind of Christ. Paul calls him “My brother”, “fellow worker”, “fellow soldier”. Apparently Pastor Epaphroditus was not one of those who opposed Paul in his troubles, but stood by him and supported him in his trials. He was a true and genuine Christian and fighter in the faith. He did not fight against Paul but fought side by side with him for the gospel of God’s grace. He was indeed a brother in spiritual arms. Such a man is indeed a servant at heart, a humble man, a man of the mind of Christ.
Read verses 25-28. “But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.” There is a funny and interesting story here! Look at the beautiful relationship between this congregation and its pastor. He got sick. They somehow heard about it. They worried for him. Then he heard that they heard that he was sick and that they were worried for him. He was actually getting better but when he heard they were worried for him he again relapsed and got worse. Then they heard that he got worse. And things just kept getting from bad to worse till he just about died. But we can see something beautiful here. He was greatly loved by his church, enough that they were concerned that he had gotten ill through his visit to Paul in the prison. It means they thought more of him than of themselves. They had the mind of Christ. And he loved them very much too, enough that he really didn’t want to burden them with the knowledge of his illness. It means that he thought more of them than of himself. He had the mind of Christ. The church was indeed a healthy church in spite of the few issues that needed to be resolved among some of the members.
Read verses 29-30.”Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.” Welcome him. Honor people like him. Why? Because he is the kind of person who is willing to lay down his life for the gospel. This was Paul’s mind as well, the mind of Christ, the mind that is fully committed to the will of God, and humble enough to put Christ’s interests above its own. Epaphroditus’ attitude was like Paul who once said: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24) We too should embrace the mind of Christ and put Christ’s interest above our own, and serve the church and each other the same as these two men did. God bless you.
Read verse 20. “I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.”