The book of Philippians introduces Epaphroditus a convert whose name means lovely or charming. Paul instructs Epahroditus’s home church, Philippi, to hold him in “reputation” (Phil. 2:29), because there was something truly lovely about this man. He willingly hazarded his life to be a true “brother, companion in labour, and fellowsoilder” (vs. 25). Now imprisoned in severe, unforgiving conditions, the founder of this church (Acts 16) pauses to celebrate this individual. For Epaphroditus, armed with the financial gifts from the church (4:10), traveled to distant Rome to “minister” to Paul’s wants (2:25). No doubt this included visiting the prison every day to bring him food, clean clothes, and myriad of other mundane tasks. This man postponed his life, and chose to invest his time, treasure and talent for what seemed a losing cause, for an imprisoned preacher. It was a colossal gamble; a speculation on the spiritual.
Gambling requires three things: consideration, chance and prize. Normally considered a vice, Ephahroditus willingly risked it all, even his own life because he believed in the “furtherance of the gospel” (1:12). Paul the surreptitious punster denotes the ritual of first century gamblers who would mutter the phrase, Epaphroditos, or “favored of Epaphroditus” to incur the favor of the goddess. Apparently Epaphroditus cast his lot for the Lord and won!