“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 fifth and final characterization of Epaphroditus was that he cared for needs. Winston Churchill quipped about one of his political opponents, “He has the genius for compressing a minimum of thought into a maximum of words.” By contrast, Paul compressed a few telling words to reveal the genius of Epaphroditus.
“and the one who ministered to my need”
Epaphroditus took it upon himself to care for Paul. His ministry was to care. Paul, in effect, said, “He cared for me here in prison. Oh, how he met my need. I was at the mercy of the Roman government that does not provide food or clothing in prison. He came and met those needs.”
The word “ministered” means pertaining to public service. It was used especially of ministering in the temple. It is the word from which we get our English word “liturgy.” The upshot of this word is that Epaphroditus gave himself publicly to serve Paul.
The word “need” in the Greek means service, advantage, and use. It came to mean that which is needed for use or service: want or need. Whether physical or spiritual needs, Epaphroditus met them all. He was a giving person. He brought an offering from the Philippian church, but his ministry was more than that. He stayed in Rome to meet whatever need Paul might have. He probably conveyed messages to believers in Rome and made contact with Roman authorities for Paul. Paul sent him on evangelistic missions. Finally, he carried the book of Philippians back to Philippi in Greece. His ministry was to take care of the little things.
While not much is written about Epaphroditus, he was of immense support to the greatest missionary of the first century. While he never swayed multitudes, he could carry a briefcase. He toiled unappreciated, unsung yet faithful in his sphere of service.
All God requires of us is to do what we can with what we have.
God has a plan for us to minister with little things. Do you diminish the little things you do for God? Paul could have never had the ministry he did without an Epaphroditus. Your support for others is strategic in God’s economy. Can the eye say to the hand, “I have no need of you?” This ministry is greatly needed in God’s strategy. Because your name does not get into the church bulletin, is your ministry any less in God’s eyes?