With an inferential therefore Paul returns to the opening words of verse 25, "I sent him," now qualified in light of verses 27-28 with all the more eager. Thus Paul offers the reciprocal side of Epaphroditus's distress over their knowledge of his illness: "that you may see him again and rejoice" (NIV be glad; see comment on 2:17), expressing here a gladsome, spontaneous delight in seeing their brother again, and especially in seeing him alive and well. Whether Paul intended "see him again and rejoice" or "see him and again rejoice" is ambiguous. Pauline usage clearly favors the latter, since this adverb almost always precedes the verb it modifies. Paul therefore probably intended that in seeing him they would "rejoice again," which is quite in keeping with the repetition of this imperative in the letter. But one cannot be sure that this is how the Philippians would have understood it, since again also seems to go naturally with the participle "seeing." In either case, Epaphroditus's return will be cause for renewing their joy.
Not only so. Just as Paul added a word of personal relief at the mercy of God in sparing Epaphroditus, so here he adds a similar word, "and I for my part may have less sorrow" (NIV anxiety). God's mercy on Epaphroditus meant that Paul was not given extra sorrow; his anticipation of the Philippians' joy in seeing Epaphroditus again, along with their relief from anxiety over him, will also have the effect of lessening Paul's ongoing grief (related to his imprisonment).
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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