Friday, May 27, 2005

St Paul: Social Klutz

To all wannabe apostles, this is not the slickest way to make somebody look good, courtesy of......St Paul!!

I'm using the NET Translation here, quoting Philippians 2:19-30.

2:19 Now I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be encouraged by hearing news about you. 2:20 For there is no one here like him who will readily demonstrate his deep concern for you. 2:21 Others are busy with their own concerns, not those of Jesus Christ. 2:22 But you know his qualifications, that like a son working with his father, he served with me in advancing the gospel. 2:23 So I hope to send him as soon as I know more about my situation, 2:24 though I am confident in the Lord that I too will be coming to see you soon.

Well that Timothy fellow must be hot stuff since Paul really lays on the praise concerning. Nobody with Paul is like him with respect to demonstrating his deep concern to the Philippians. Timothy, unlike others, is concerned with Christ, and not his own concerns.

This ever-so-wonderful Timothy will be coming to see you soon, Philippians.

Oh wait.....scratch that, never mind, my bad.

2:25 But for now I have considered it necessary to send Epaphroditus to you.

Here comes the chopped liver, the proverbial hot dog filler material. No Timothy for you! Here instead is Epaphroditus.

Now imagine that you're Epaphroditus. Some introduction, eh? You're already second-rate behind Timothy. What an endorsement!

St Paul now engages in damage control:

2:25 For he is my brother, coworker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to me in my need. 2:26 Indeed, he greatly missed all of you and was distressed because you heard that he had been ill. 2:27 In fact he became so ill that he nearly died. But God showed mercy to him--and not to him only, but also to me--so that I would not have grief on top of grief. 2:28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you can rejoice and I can be free from anxiety. 2:29 So welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 2:30 since it was because of the work of Christ that he almost died. He risked his life so that he could make up for your inability to serve me.

Wow! That's "laying it on thick." Epaphroditus is no Timothy, but let me list his many good points and perhaps save a bit of face in the process. It strikes the PP as being told, upon being fixed up in a blind date [don't ask], that "she's got a GREAT personality." What a compliment to her!

According to early tradition, Epaphroditus nursed a pretty heavy grudge against St Paul for the remainder of his days. The Apocryphal Epistle of Epaphroditus to the Philippians reeks of the bitter pathos of a man dissed by no less than St Paul himself:
....Yea, I know that I am named by our Lord Jesus Christ, notwithstanding the fact that I am but nothing in the eyes of the blessed apostle...

[Source: D.T. Vestrovitch, The Apocryphal Writings of Epaphroditus, 3rd edition [1876], Hendrickson]

Moral of the story: Be very careful when acquiring a letter of introduction from an apostle!

Moral of the story II: Don't even think that you're as good as Timothy!


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