“Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need”
The third report Paul gave of Epaphroditus was that he was a “co- soldier” to the apostle.
“and fellow soldier”
Paul said, “Epaphroditus and I were in the same spiritual outfit. We sloshed through the spiritual mud together; we slugged it out with the enemy together; we were in sickbay together; we went through the war together.” Some Christians act surprised when they end up in spiritual war. Alas, many Christians do not even engage the enemy. The battle is raging, and they are sitting off in the hills where there is little danger. They care little for the consequence of who will win. The impact may be disastrous for the cause of Christ, but they are off in La La Land.
Granted, not all belong at or are fit for the front lines. Some should be in the supply lines; others support for those who are flying the jets. But everyone should be a soldier, not a sitter—a soldier.
The Christian life is a war. We have a great enemy. He is powerful, and his troops are many and well trained. To hold no defense against that force is calamitous to the Christian cause.
There are many metaphors of soldiering in the Bible:
“This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare.” (1 Ti. 1:18)
”Fight the good fight of faith.” (1 Ti. 6:12)
“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Ti. 2:3)
We operate on three fronts: the world, the flesh, and the devil. We need to know both ourselves and the enemy. The book The Art of War makes that point: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.”
We cannot call every believer a “fellow (co)soldier.”
Only those who are actively engaged in spiritual war can we genuinely call soldiers—that is, those employed in winning people to Christ, caring for the spiritually wounded, giving support to the troops on the front lines (missionaries, preachers, lay leaders). When Satan attacks us personally, we must put on our spiritual armor. This involves both defensive (spirituality) and offensive measures (advancing the cause of Christ). Are we at the center of the spiritual battle? Do we view ourselves as engaged in a spiritual war?