Paul wrote many epistles to churches and some epistles to individuals Timothy, Titus and Philemon. Of all the epistles
to individuals, his two epistles to Timothy are outstanding. In his epistles to individuals, we can see the apostolic love
for the individual members of the Body of Christ.
Paul called the young Timothy "my own son in the faith" and "my
dearly beloved son". Where are the apostles today, who treat the individual believers as their own sons in the faith?
While writing his second epistle, Paul was conscious of his home-call. He knew that he was nearing his martyrdom.
But he did not care for his own life but cared for the young Timothy. Paul took time to write a long epistle to his beloved
son in the faith, warning him against "the last days' perilous times" (II Tim.3:1). With a heavy heart, Paul warned Timothy
against the tide of apostasy that had set in. Paul wrote, "This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia turned away
from me…." (II Tim.1:15). The Asian churches had not disbanded, nor ceased to call themselves Christians but they had
turned away from the doctrine of grace distinctively revealed through the Apostle. This was the proof that already the apostasy
had set in, in its first form, legalism.
The apostle who was forsaken by those very people to whom he had preached
the gospel did not lose his heart but wrote two long epistles to a single individual who was a youth. These days, many ministers
do not want to minister to individuals because they are busy in God's work by way of holding big crusades. Even if you want
to meet one of them, you cannot have easy access to him or her. You have to meet his/her personal staff just to get an appointment.
If you are an influential person in the society, you may succeed in getting the appointment with the minister concerned. Can
you expect the minister concerned to write to you a long letter or to send you a personal email? No. Where are the apostles
today who take care of the individuals and who take time to warn the individuals personally against the false doctrines or
against the days of apostasy?
A true apostle is the one who not only takes care of the individuals but also
has upon himself "the care of all the churches" (II Tim.11:28). His vision is for all the churches of God in the universal
Body of Christ and not for any particular denomination churches or for the churches geographically confined to his nation.
A true apostle is the one who through his prophetic eyes sees the decline of the Christian standards in his time.
The one who hankers after church pulpits but does not expose the doctrines of apostasy in the churches concerned for fear
of losing the pulpit is not an apostle at all.
Today, we see that many churches have turned away from the doctrine
of grace but have turned towards certain sets of rules and legalism. We are indeed in the days of apostasy. We cannot expect
revivals in those churches that are in the grip of apostasy. Where are the apostles who warn the churches against this tide
of apostasy that is raging the churches of God today? At times, we find the so-called apostolic gatherings in our midst. But
we do not get any siren of warning nor hear the blowing of trumpets from such apostolic gatherings about the tide of apostasy.
The Church needs more Epaphroditus than Paul
Paul was an apostle of Christ Jesus who wrote many epistles which formed part of the
New Testament. He had received awesome revelations about the mystical Body of Christ. When we study about the life and ministry
of this great apostle, we tend to forget his co-workers. We look into his epistles for apostolic doctrines but do not look
at the last paragraphs of his epistles where he has mentioned about his co-workers. The epistles of Paul were incomplete and
would lose their meaning if we ignore his co-workers. Paul's apostolic ministry was not an independent and individual one.
It was a body ministry or a team work. Paul regarded every one in his team as his brother/sister and loved them from the depth
of his heart.
Many of these co-workers were not known by their offices. Their offices or ministries were neither defined
nor revealed in the Pauline epistles. For Paul, his co-workers were more than the officially designated ministers of God like
apostles, prophets, evangelists, etc.
Paul remembered the name of every co-worker and trusted him or her fully. However,
he was deserted by some of them like Alexander, the coppersmith who did him much evil (2 Tim.4:14).
About a couple
namely "Priscilla and Aquilla", Paul introduced them "my helpers in Christ Jesus" "who have for my life laid down their own
necks; unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles" (Rom.16:4). About one Perris, he wrote
"Salute the beloved Persis, which labored much in the Lord" (Rom.16:12).
About Epaphroditus, Paul described in Phil.3:25-30
"my brother, and companion in labor, and fellow soldier". "He was sick nigh unto death". Paul exhorted Philippians to receive
him in the Lord with all gladness "because for the work of Christ he was high unto death, not regarding his life, to supply
your lack of service toward me".
About Epaphroditus, Paul further wrote in Col.4:12, "Epaphras, who is one of you,
a servant of Christ…always laboring fervently for you in prayers that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will
For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you……"
How much did Paul trust
his fellow workers? He trusted them fully. These days, many ministers of God have great establishments all over their nations
or all over the world. Do they treat their co-workers as their brethren/sisters in the Lord and companions in labor or merely
their subordinate staff/employees?
Epaphoditus was a prayer warrior and loved the Lord to such an extent that he
was nigh unto death. He did not write any epistle. He was not known by any ministerial designation but was known by his work
which resulted in his nearing the jaws of death.
There are thousands of people of God like Epaphoditus,
Priscilla and Aquilla, whom we do not know in the Christian world.
Many aspire to be Paul or Peter but do not aspire
to be Epaphroditus. The Church needs more Epaphoditus, Priscilla and Aquilla than Paul.