Q: #487. Who was Epaphroditus in the book of Philippians?
A: Ephphroditus is mentioned by name only two times in the Bible, with both times being in the book of Philippians (Phil 2:25)(Phil 4:18). We are told very little about Ephphroditus. It does seem clear, however, that Paul thought highly of him. In (Phil 2:25) he calls him “my brother,” a “fellow worker” (also said of Titus: 2 Cor 8:23, and Timothy: Rom 16:21, 1 Th 3:2), a “fellow soldier” (also said of Timothy: 2 Tim 2:3-4), and a “messenger” (from the Greek word for “apostle,” however, a “lesser apostle,” as he was not directly commissioned by Christ). He may have been an elder or deacon in the church at Philippi.
We also know that he was sent from Philippi to Rome with a “gift” from the Philippian church to provide for the needs of Paul who was in prison (Phil 4:14-18) in Rome (1st imprisonment, house arrest). It appears that he stayed in Rome for a period of time “ministering” to the needs of Paul. While there, he became very sick, so much so that he nearly died (Phil 2:25-30). However, “God had mercy on him,” and he recovered. (Note: These verses also point to the fact that “miraculous healing” did not always occur in the New Testament. More on this here.) After he recovered, Paul sent him back to the Philippians with this letter (Phil 2:28-30).
It is interesting to note that the name “Ephphroditus” means “belonging to / devoted to Aphrodite” (a pagan goddess of love, also called “Venus”). Obviously, he moved beyond what his name meant, to instead “belonging to Christ.”