Alan Knox, while reflecting on the the sending and resending of Epaphroditus in Philippians, posted on his blog some thoughts on the relationship between a church, a person sent out from the church (such as an apostle/missionary), and people to whom he/she is sent. In this case, the purpose for which Epaphroditus is sent is for service, representationally, that is, he was sent to serve Paul in the stead of the Philippian church, and then he was sent back to the church as a representative of Paul.
I certainly want to affirm the relationship we find being describing in this passage between Paul, Epaphroditus and the Philippian church. And I do think this passage does inform the biblical theology of mission, however, I wonder though, having just read Schnabel’s Paul the Missionary, whether this is intended to be a rule, or a principle, or a paradigm, regarding Christian mission?
For Schnabel, rules are “direct commandments or prohibitions of specific conduct”; principles are “general frameworks that need to govern decisions concerning missionary work”; and paradigms “[provide] the fundamental categories through which we are to understand and interpret…the missionary task” (377-8).
Which of these three options does the sending and resending of Epaphroditus fit (Phil 2:25-30)?
Could there be another category for understanding questions such as these?