There were several people who worked with Paul, serving churches while Paul was starting them. When he left cities with newly built churches, he left behind certain co-workers like Timothy and Titus. He had other fellow workers as well who traveled with him and helped him by serving him in different ways. Two of these workers were Trophimus and Epaphroditus.
I left Trophimus sick in Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20).
Trophimus was a Gentile from Ephesus who traveled with Paul on his third missionary journey and perhaps others. When Paul was in Jerusalem after his third missionary journey, he was arrested because people saw Trophimus with Paul and assumed that Paul (a Jew) took Trophimus (a Gentile) into the temple with him, which was forbidden. This assumption created a riot which led to Paul’s arrest and trial.
During a further journey (which is not mentioned in the book of Acts) Trophimus got sick and left Paul to stay behind in Miletus which was a wealthy city in what is now known as Turkey.
The fact that Paul and his other companions (there could have been around 8 of them) later left Trophimus behind in Miletus indicates that Trophimus must have been very sick. Trophimus was never mentioned again, so we aren’t sure if he revived or not.
For he (Epaphroditus) longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow (Philippians 2:26-27).
Another of Paul’s co-workers was Epaphroditus who was like an ambassador for the church of Philippi. He traveled back and forth, from Paul to the Philippi and then back to Paul. He brought messages to and from his contacts, and he helped encourage and grow the church in their dedication to Paul and to the Lord.
In all his back and forth, Epaphroditus and the church grew very close to each other and loved each other dearly, so when the church heard that Epaphroditus was extremely sick, they were more than concerned. While Paul and the church prayed for his health, Epaphroditus grew so sick that death was certain. Nevertheless, God had mercy on him and everybody praying, by allowing Epaphroditus to recover.
The only mention of anything miraculous about this situation was that God had mercy on everybody involved. The whole episode seems to be a terrible sickness that ran its course.
A very interesting side note to this section is how Paul viewed the sickness of Epaphroditus: “So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me (Phl 2:29-30).”
Notice Paul’s thoughts about the sickness of Epaphroditus. Paul did not say he lacked faith and he did not say that Epaphroditus should have claimed healing. Paul went so far as confessing that Epaphroditus was sick and near to death. Notice also that people should honor him because he was so sick while working for Christ, “honor people like him.” This honor is completely opposite to the shame faith healing advocates give to the sick for not having enough faith.
“Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses (1Timothy 5:23).”
When Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, he told him to drink more wine and less water. This was the solution Paul gave Timothy for getting sick so often. Today’s faith healers would say, “Claim your healing and remember that Jesus gave you health and you need to take hold of it.” But Paul turned Timothy to a a cure that was medically established at that time. They didn’t know about parasites and microscopic bacteria in water, but they knew from experience that drinking wine led to less sickness than drinking water regularly. Ultimately, Paul directed Timothy to a medical solution for his sickness. This is taboo to the faith healing teachings.
From time to time Paul prayed for people who were healed, and yet the time came when he himself could not be healed.
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Satan did something to Paul and God would not put a stop to it. Paul called it a thorn in his flesh.
In the book of Galatians, Paul reminded the Galatians that when they were young Christians, they were so dedicated to him, that they would have pulled out their own eyes and would have given their own eyes to him, if that were possible. Paul also mentioned that he writes with large letters (literally big characters – which was his practice at the end of his epistles so the recipients would know it was Paul and not some person claiming to be Paul). And when he was face to face with the High Priest, he didn’t know who was speaking to him (in his day, Paul was a leading Pharisee, so it is unthinkable that he wouldn’t know who his own High Priest was, unless of course, he was blind).
ARE ALL CHRISTIANS SUPPOSED TO BE HEALED TODAY?
My Grandmother was a praying Lutheran who prayed all of her grandkids (14 of us) into the kingdom of God. Today we are all going to different kinds of churches, but most of us are active and doing well in the faith because Grandma always prayed for us and in a 2 year period we all became believers.
That being said, when Grandma was in her 80s she called me (I was going to Seminary) and told me that when she was in her doctor’s office (Grandma was visiting her doctor because she was going blind and she prayed constantly for her eyesight to be returned to normal). While waiting to see the doctor, grandma told me that she saw Jesus who was talking to her, but she didn’t hear anything. She was hoping I might let her know why she saw Jesus and what He was saying.
I knew the words to tell grandma, but decided instead to tell her, “Pray about it and I am sure that God will let you know.” I figured that if she saw Jesus, He was able to let her know what He was trying to say, and that would be better than me telling her.
Sure enough the next morning Grandma called and told me, “This morning when I woke up, I heard the words over and over again, ‘My grace is sufficient for you.'”
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