Sermon: A Tale of Two Servants (Philippians 2:19–30)
Although we are only a handful of verses removed from the Christ hymn in Philippians 2:6–11 when we come to Philippians 2:19–30, these two passages seem at first glance like they have almost nothing in common. The first passage packs dense theology into a small number of words, and the second passage seems to sprawl over a fairly minor matter of who would visit the Philippians, and when. On the surface, these two passages scarcely seem to come from the same author, let alone to belong in the same letter with only a short separation.
But in fact, Paul writes this section of the letter, writing about why Epaphroditus has returned to his fellow Philippians, and why Timothy has not yet come, not only to handle logistics, but also to continue pressing forward the themes of Christ-like servanthood. In describing Timothy and Epaphroditus, Paul honors two servants with the highest possible praise: that of resembling their Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. While these two share close thematic commonality, the difference arises elsewhere: Paul here describes not what Jesus would do, but what ordinary, human, servants of Jesus would do.