25 But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need; 26 because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I have sent him all the more eagerly so that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you. 29 Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard; 30 because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me (Philippians 2).
The specifics of their “service” to Paul is given in 4:15-20, disclosing a monetary gift given to him, which was sent through Epaphroditus, who was one of their own. Thus, Paul is sending his letter back to them via this one whom they had first sent him their gift. The physical sickness of Epaphroditus is not described, however Paul does want them to know that he was both homesick for them, as well as sick at heart over concern for their distress in hearing he had been ill.
These two words“high regard” are one word in the Greek, the same word Peter used to describe Jesus as the “living stone … choice and precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 2:4). That Paul would include an enjoiner to “hold men like him in high regard” seems unnecessary, for there seems to be no doubt they already thought much of this Epaphroditus fellow. Yet, Paul is likely making a point that Epaphroditus is not the only such man in their midst. Indeed, there are others “like him” — other heroes of the faith — who also deserve their respect. Thus, they should not latch on to the one to the neglect of the others.
Lord, thank You for the heroes of the faith that are in our midst even now. Help us to see them for who and what they are — indeed precious. Should we meet with any This Day, help us first to recognize them as the heroes they are, as well as to show them the honor that is due them. Amen.